Minimizing Interruptions at Work

When I am in the midst of a rush, the last thing I want is to be interrupted by the telephone or a question that can wait. There are other times when I am working on a project that requires a quiet environment so that I can concentrate. Interruptions, no matter how brief, interfere with your thought process and do affect your ability to get things done. Here are some suggestions that I have used to reduce interruptions while in the midst of an important project:

1. I start with closing my office door. If that doesn't work, then I move to the next step.
2. I will put my phone on forward, and turn down the ring tone.
3. I will send an e-mail to my immediate team members to let them know what I am doing, and request my privacy. People seem to be more willing to comply when they understand the urgency of the project.
4. I engage the "out of office" auto reply in my Outlook settings to let the sender know that I am in the middle of an urgent matter, and will respond to my e-mails as soon as the project is completed.
5. If the project can be completed outside my office, I will reserve a conference room and transport my project to another location.
6. If someone comes into my office in the middle of an important project, I do not make it easy for them to get comfortable and chat. I will listen carefully to what they are saying, acknowledging their question, but I also continue working, look up and answer their question, then look back down at my work.
7. To get private time with my attorney, I block out time on the calendar.
8. If being polite is not working, then as my son will say, "it's on like Donkey Kong," and I will be more forceful. Providing top quality work on time is my priority. I will place a "do not disturb" sign on the door, put my phones on forward, turn down my ring tone, place the auto-reply setting on Outlook, and lock myself in my office. If you knock on the door after all that and make me get up to unlock the door, then you are either a) really brave; or b) the attorney or team member working on the same project.
Barbara Haubrich, ACP/CAS is the creator and author of The California Litigator, an E-zine for California legal professionals who are interested in enhancing their knowledge and strategies in the arena of California state civil litigation support. Barbara is also an Administrative Legal Assistant with the law firm of Chain | Cohn | Stiles in Bakersfield, California.

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