When asked if they are addicted to interruptions, many people say, “Me? Not possible.” But people in my training programs routinely calculate losing three to five hours a day to interruptions. So they are evidently doing something they’re in denial about. Check yourself for these signs:
When you’re mildly bored with the task at hand, do you tend to seek out stimulation on your phone, the Internet or email inbox? If you have set aside some time for an important task, do you start focusing on things like “I hope this project leads to a promotion” or “I’m hungry.” Many people are so accustomed to being interrupted that even when they have made themselves impervious to interruptions by others, they interrupt themselves.
When a colleague asks, “Got a minute?” even when you’re on a deadline, do you automatically respond, “Sure, what’s up?” Many people do so even though they know the consequences will be bad for them. If you’re addicted to interruptions, you need to embed some new behaviors. First, recognize the damage that interruptions cause. Deter your “Time Bandits” politely by making it in their best interest for you to continue working without interruption. Try some techniques to improve your ability to concentrate and avoid leakage in your flow of ideas. When you change these behaviors and gain back time, your work and personal life will prosper.