What do you do when you are working on an important project, being really productive and are interrupted? I’m sure that this has happened to you – a colleague passes your office and stops by to chat about an upcoming sports event or you receive a phone call from a friend wanting to discuss a matter that is not at all important.

Recently an attorney said she has a rule – Don’t Waste My Time! Great rule but you cannot always say it, even if you’re thinking it.

Here are a few tips on handling and minimizing interruptions:

  • Be open and honest with the person stopping by or on the other end of the phone. Explain that you are in the midst of a project and set a time to speak later.
  • Stand up and head toward a water fountain, bathroom or the kitchen area. Anywhere. The person tagging along will get the hint without your saying a thing.
  • Let your boss know – if that’s the interrupter – what project you are working on when you were pulled away. Give the boss the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he/she will understand now.
  • Tell yourself – if you’re the interrupter – to stay focused and get back to work … pronto.

You have more control over interruptions than you realize. The trick is to be proactive, not reactive. While many issues are important and need to be addressed right away, the basketball scores can wait, even if your team won.

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