Interruptions are a quick and easy way to become disorganised, lose focus, fall behind and become frustrated.

So dealing with those interruptions will help you be organised, remain focussed, be on time and stay calm.  It takes practise, maybe some training and putting systems in place.  Turning off your phone and email alerts, putting a sign on your door, having an assistant screen callers or moving to a different location are all good suggestions.

But some people don’t take a hint.  Some people are persistent.  Those interruptions can be the hardest to shake off.  Before you know it you’re in a conversation you didn’t want to have right now, discussing something which distracts you from your main goal.  The human element, the emotional pull you feel when another human being is involved, can soon get you off track.

How do you deal with those persistent interrupters?  I think the answer has to be training.  You have to train others how to treat you.  It’s no good expecting them to know what you’re thinking (even if there is a sign on the door).  If they don’t get it with subtle signs, you have to give it to them (politely) between the eyes.  And if they still don’t get it, maybe it’s because they feel their needs are more important than yours.  That’s when you have to get really tough.  Shut them down.  If you believe your time is valuable, help them to realise it is as well.

Try this – “I can see this issue is important to you, but I have other priorities right now.  Let’s make a time when we can both give this issue our full concentration.”  Or “I can’t give you any time at the moment.  Could you write down your points, and I’ll consider them at another time?”

I’d like to hear your ideas.  How do you deal with human interruptions?

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