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Time management Maximise Productivity, Minimise Interruptions

We are in the second month of home renovations and realise now more than ever how awful constant interruptions are! I’m so used to the calm peaceful environment of my home office were I normally love to work, now I hardly I sit down to attend to my administrative tasks, when someone needs something, wants to know something or is just plain a nuisance. I feel extremely frustrated at times and constantly have to remind myself of the words of our project manager, “Keep the end result in mind” and the life empowering words that Mandy, Coach for life, subscribes to:

“Fighting the force of something that you cannot change causes pain, frustration and anger;

Accepting that which you cannot change brings peace;

Identifying that which you have the power to change is the path to personal power.”

It has been scientifically proven that it takes 15-20 minutes to get back on track after an interruption. Here are some tips on minimising interruptions always keeping in mind that there will be things that you will not be able to change, there is a difference between reality and desire.

Are you a stress junkie? If so, break the habit now! Take a closer look at what is eating away at your time? Decide if it is something you can change and take the necessary action. You should be in control of your time instead of others taking over control. Start small, keeping your goal in mind – working more effectively.

Create new habits to minimise interruptions and maximise your productivity:

Work area
  • Zone your work area. This is especially important for people with home offices to create a certain amount of isolation in a quiet location. If you work in an open plan office environment and you need to focus, find a spot in an unused boardroom. Take a snack and drink to prevent you from getting up to fetch something.
  • Keep all your supplies at hand so that you do not need to look for stuff
  • Beware of multitasking it takes a long time for the brain to process things when switching tasks. Group similar tasks together.
  • Set boundaries concerning time and availability. What would others do if you were not available?
  •  Create a time map for tasks. Let everyone know when you will respond to phone calls and when you will have time to see people.

Critical Tasks

  • Choose your most important tasks. Create a quiet time or closed door policy for these, so that you can focus and accomplish them without interruptions. During this time switch phones to voice mail and switch the e-mail off. No one is allowed to disturb you during this time. Set yourself a time limits.


  • Fight the temptation to look at or to respond to e-mails for the first hour of the day. Set aside specific hours of the day in which you send and reply to email. Keep your email program off for the rest of the time. If an e-mail requires research or a long report, respond with a short message, like “I’m working on it” and schedule time for it with your critical tasks.


  • Phone calls are the worst interruptions. Screen your calls using your answering machine or voicemail and ask callers to leave a detailed message or to call you back in the allocated time. Some people love to talk, practice exit lines for these.
  • Alternatively you can have a work phone, which you only answer during work hours and personal phone to be used after work hours.

Paper Work

  • While working on hardcopies of documents use post-it notes when interrupted so that you now exactly were you stopped. Jot down your last thoughts on it. It will take less time when you get started again.


  •  How often have you sat in on a meeting and wondered what you were doing there? Have short meetings with the person/s concerned at a predetermined time. Know exactly what needs to be discussed and how long it will take.
  • For larger projects meet once a day to discuss the progress and the plans for the next day.
  • To prevent people popping in and sitting down to chat, remove the other chair if you do not see clients or get up to let them know that you don’t have time. Glance at your watch or ask if you can schedule another time.

Ideas/ Inspirations

  • Record any idea as it comes into your mind into your planner or a note book. Clear it from your mind so that you can continue without it breaking your concentration.

Stay focused! Try to stay focused on your goal and on the job at hand, despite interruptions.

I wish you wisdom to identify that which you can change, to find the path to personal power and peace.

Heidi Meyer

Professional Organiser

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