The workplace has become a deafening place with 24/7 demands. While technology has enabled us to learn and communicate in ways that were impossible 10 years ago, it has also created a sense of urgency to tasks that otherwise would not have crossed our desk.
Amidst all the chaos and seemingly endless demands, we let our days get away from us by inadvertently letting others’ requests dominate our time. By the end of the day, we are exhausted and frustrated by the “real” work that did not get completed.
The Sad Fact
The sad fact is that most of the noise is not likely going to stop. Much of it will continue to a certain extent because we have to stay connected. But we DO have control as to when and how much we let the outside noise enter our minds and environment. By exercising this control, we can create time and space to focus on our real priorities.
I had already started this post when I ran across Chris Brogan’s article “How Say No” where he writes about politely saying no and applying is “map” as a guideline to when he should say no. The timing is perfect because I’ve been thinking a lot lately about decluttering my mental and physical environment.
So this week I’m committed to Say No to Constant Interruptions. Not only because I have some BIG items that require thoughtful attention, but because I feel the need to inject more control into my workday to counter the sense of being out of control. Saying no will create time to get the real work done, but it will also quiet my mind to foster clearer thinking. In effect, I will be quieting the outside and inside noise.
No to Endless Interruptions
- Turn off email for 2 hour segments. We know we should do this; it’s not a new idea. But
weI have become hooked to the chaos and deceptive sense of accomplishment by of our constant attention to email. World peace does not depend on my immediately returning an email. And getting caught in this trap in fact teaches others to expect immediacy on issues that are not actually urgent.
- Close the door for a period each day. Not only does this limit the interruptions to you, it also trains staff to collect and organize their thoughts and minimize their own interruptions. Lead by example, right?
- Hold the calls when the door is closed and emails or off. It doesn’t do any good to create a space for high level thinking, writing, and planning if the phone is ringing and beeping. Yes, I will figure out how to send my landline to voice mail. Yep, I’ll be turning off my cell phone too, no distracting texts or calls to get in my way.
I’ve successfully done this in the past, but somehow I’ve gotten out of the habit of creating uninterrupted periods of time. But based on my workload and mental clutter, this is definitely something I need to recommit to.
Even if it is for short periods each day, would anyone care to join me in saying no to endless interruptions?
- How to Say No by Chris Brogan
- Training of the Corporate Athlete by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz (Harvard Business Review)
- Getting Things Done by David Allen