The Importance Of Uninterrupted Time
By C Rhoberta Shaler, PhD
Have you ever been right in the middle of writing the perfect
sentence when a co-worker or spouse appeared at the door with a
need? Ever been working on a proposal and just as it really
begins to come together your phone rings? Not only are these
events annoying, irritating and downright infuriating, they are
extremely inefficient uses of your time.
Research has shown that, when in the middle of a creative
project, it takes up to twenty minutes to return to the same
high-level of productivity following an interruption. That one
fact alone could transform workplaces, couldn't it?
How do you create uninterrupted time? First, the work culture
has to address the issue. Where there are cubicles, interruption
can be constant. Your own level of concentration, then, becomes
critical. Can you block out unwanted stimuli easily? Can you
see people coming up to you from your work station? One of the
truly disruptive things both physically and emotionally is the
jolt you get when a person speaks to or touches you unexpectedly.
It's a good idea to create a rear-view mirror for yourself if you
cannot see folks approaching your cubicle. When you have to
overcome both the mental interruption and the shock to the body,
that's even more disturbing!
If you have an office door, you're lucky. Consult your schedule
and block out times when that door will be shut. You may have to
educate other staff members to the meaning of your closed door.
At one business, I saw a sign on a closed door that read, "If you
are thinking of knocking or opening this door, you really don't
understand why it is closed!!! Think again." That may or may
not work for you, however, it did make the intruder stop and
Does that telephone really need to be answered every single time
it rings? Probably not. Does email have to be answered within
thirty seconds of its arrival? Probably not. If not, what would
it take for you to unhook yourself from the demands of those two
instant communication systems. Develop the habits you need to be
the most effective and efficient.
Constant interruption kills any hope of effective time
management. One solution is to create regular meetings with the
folks with whom you interact most at work. Use that time to
address non-pressing issues and to foresee upcoming needs. Be
pro-active. Head crises off at the path. This will cut down on
So, what if you are the lowest person on your work totem pole?
That's tough from the perspective of minimizing interruptions.
You may, in fact, be seen as the most available person in the
office. You can still assess your workload and make suggestions
as to when is the best time to bring you tasks or ask for
information. If you are very wise, you will make those
suggestions sound like clear benefit statements to the staff,
e.g., "In order for me to give you the very best service, I would
like to have all your requests before 2 PM. That way, it is
likely I can respond to them today."
At home, the same thing applies. Everyone needs quiet,
uninterrupted time. Recently I was working with a coaching
client who has a demanding job, a new baby and a husband who
travels extensively for his work. Carving out at least one half-
hour of uninterrupted time for herself is taking some
persistence. Everything seems to be more demanding than her
promises to herself. She's changing that quickly. Some folks
seem to take much longer. How about you? Are you at the top of
your totem pole for some time every day?
Give yourself the gift of uninterrupted time. The returns are
Rhoberta Shaler, PhD, speaks, coaches & conducts seminars for
organizations who want to motivate their people, and for
individuals who want to achieve their dreams. For further
articles, free ezines, upcoming teleseminars and booking
information, visit http://www.OptimizeLifeNow.com today. For
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