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5 Ways to Limit Interruptions and Get More Done

If you ONLY worked 40 hours per week in your business, you’d be spending a whole 480 minutes of the 1,440 minutes you have in a single day. With all of that time spent, it’s crazy that we feel like it’s still not enough! Yet, why does it feel like you only have half of that time? Why don’t you feel you need to dedicate more time to your business and not your family or yourself?

It can be an exhausting feeling as if we’re always catching up and the checklist is never completed. To break out of that cycle, we need a way to maximize our time and productivity while limiting our interruptions and distractions.

“People spend an average of 11 minutes on a project before they’re interrupted. It takes them on average 25 minutes to get back to the point they were at before a distraction.”

UC Irvine study

Interruptions infringe on your productivity, cause you to lose focus and change your motivation. Interruptions have become a norm in the workplace with little emphasis on being addressed. So, let’s address it and find you more time in the work day. 

Here are a few ways to prevent interruptions so that you have more time with family and friends.

1.  Set Boundaries

In order to prevent interruptions, you must set expectations about how and when your team communicates with you. This does not mean you are to tell your team that you are too busy for questions, but that questions should be asked at an appropriate time. 

Give yourself one hour each day to shut your door without any interruptions; in order to go through emails, make the calls you have been putting off and focus on running your business.

Prior to shutting your door take a few minutes to see if anyone has questions you can answer for them. Then communicate with them that you will be taking the next hour to focus without distractions. And truly, shut your door. If you dedicate time to be productive but put yourself in an area in which you can get distracted easily, you will quickly lose focus.

This will cause your team to determine whether or not you must put out the fire or if they can do it themselves.

2.   Empower Your Employees

You feel as though your team should know the answer to questions that they come to you with. Have you empowered them to handle it? Do they have the knowledge and confidence to not run to you with questions all day long?

You must teach and set the expectations that you want them to handle any situation they are capable of handling. Once you have equipped your team with the tools they need to address anything that might arise, let them address it. Do not jump in or take over a conversation if you do not need to. If you do, they will feel as if you do not trust them. Your team might know what the answer is but until you have shown them that you trust their judgement, they will interrupt you because of their lack of confidence and preparation.

3.  Answer The Question Before It’s Asked

Once you sit down and evaluate why you are interrupted, you will notice a trend. Your employees will knock on your door if a brand rep calls, when your return policy is unclear, or someone has an inquiry about a local donation. There are a handful of the same questions that can be addressed without your help. So, start answering them. 

If you’ve been asked the question once, there is a high chance it will be asked again. Make a list of your most commonly asked questions or situation and follow the question with your desired solution. Create forms and procedures to follow in order to create structure and consistency. Structure is a great way to answer questions before they are needed to be asked. 

When reviewing the questions and answers with your team, they might need clarification or have varied scenarios they would like solved. This will give you insight about what they are comfortable with and where there are weaknesses. Keep lists and forms in an easily accessed spot so that it can be referred back to at any time. Taking minutes to do this now will save you triple the time in the future.

4.   New Line of Communication

Once you have set boundaries, determine the best line of communication for people who you need to get back to. Here are a few examples of using different lines of communication to limit interruptions. 

  • If your brand rep always calls your phone but you’d prefer to answer to them (or anyone else who calls) because you can respond to them quicker with your schedule; let your staff and them know! Tell those you speak to on the phone that the best way to communicate with you is through an email. Have your employees do the same, instead of interrupting you, give the person your email saying that you are constantly in and out of the building all day but that emails are responded to timely. 
  • If you have customers who ask for donations, have them fill out a form prior to considering it. This will give you all the information you need in order to contact the person requesting a quick answer on if you will be donating. This form can be given to people while you are helping customers and by employees so you are not interrupted. 
  • A store manager is also a great way to communicate what you would like done without having to be spoken to. Have your employees “go through the chain” starting with floor leads, managers and then you if needed. 

Use the best avenue of contact and communication for YOU. Each person is different, so know what is the most efficient.

5.  Limit Screen Time

The last tip in avoiding interruptions is to stop interrupting your own productivity. When you need to be focused, do not allow texts or apps to interrupt your focus. Know what needs to be opened and what can wait. Even responding to a non-urgent text can break your concentration and time in which you have set aside are wasted. You chose this interruption. Solution?

Put your phone on silent. Turn off notifications. Limit your screen time. 

Should you be checking Instagram or Facebook to see if posts are performing? Only if you are pulling data. Delegate this if possible though. Should you open Pinterest? Only if you are needing creative inspiration. If you are opening any app, it needs to have a productive purpose.

Keep in mind, customers are not an interruption. Sales are vital for your survival. If a customer takes you away from placing an order, merchandising, or anything else, make sure you are in the mindset that they are priority. 

After consistency and time, you will begin to notice that you have more time in the day than you thought you did. By putting these 5 steps into action you will not only add one hour of designated productivity to your day but your staff and those you work directly with will interrupt you less giving you more time to grow your business.

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