Dealing With Interruptions – Start an Interruptions Log

interruptions log

One thing that gets in the way of effective time management is interruptions. Whether these interruptions come in the form of people approaching your desk, a phone call or email, they all prevent us from managing our time and getting things done.

Interruptions can be frustrating, and we often waste a lot of time dealing with them.

There is a lot of ideas out there on how to deal with interruptions, but before you can get to deal with them, it’s a good idea to find out where they are coming from and why.

A neat tool to do this is and to find out who your persistent offenders are to is an interruptions log.

An interruptions log is a piece of work you can complete over the space of several days where you make a note of each time you are interrupted. Here is how it works.

Create a template with the following headings:

Date, time, who, why and grade. It might look something like this:

interruptions log

Each time you get interrupted (meaning each time you have to stop a task and deal with someone else) fill in the log. Here is how to fill it in:

  • Date – The date the interruption happened (this could just be written at the start of the day)
  • Time – The time the interruption happened
  • Who – Who interrupted you?
  • Why – Why did they interrupt you?
  • How long – How long did the interruption last for?
  • Grade – Grade the interruption to its importance. If the interruption was very necessary, then grade it as A up to if the interruption was completely irrelevant, then grade it as D. Mark other interruptions in between.

Do this for around a week then analyse the data. Look for trends and also look at how much time you have spent dealing with interruptions.

For example:

Do you find that you are being interrupted by the same person? If so, it may suggest that this persona has become reliant on you for information. It could also suggest that you are making it too easy for them to ask you. Try pushing back, asking them what they think they should/could do or make sure they understand how to do the things they are asking for themselves.

Do you find that different people are interrupting you for the same reason? This may suggest that a training need exists which could be addressed, or that you hold some information that others need access to that could be made publically available.

The times of day that you are interrupted can also be a useful signal to look at too. For example, if you get interrupted more in the morning than in the afternoon or vice-versa, this could suggest that people have less energy at those times in the day and find it easier to ask you questions. It could also mean that you lack energy around those times, and you find it easier to just answer peoples questions.

Use the data to proactively put fixes in place to reduce or remove as many interruptions as you can. This will go along way to help you with your time management and to get more things done.

Our time management training course looks at the interruptions log and many more things that you could do to better manage your time.

 

 

 

Effective Time Management Behaviours

We all use a range of Time Management Tools in our everyday work, but is it the tools that actually help us to manage time or is it something else?

If you think about it, the term Time Management is a misnomer – we can’t actually manage time, but can manage ourselves around the time we have available to us.

How many times have you heard, or used the cry ‘I wish there was more hours in the day’? More than once I bet. But, we immerse ourselves in tools to try and manage time but still sometimes we get nowhere. Which of these do you use or tried:

  • Outlook Calendar
  • Diary
  • To-Do Lists
  • Plans
  • Using filters on your mailbox
  • Covey’s Urgent Important Matrix

There are to name but a few.

But, the key to successful time management is two fold. Yes there are the tools, but equally if not more important is the attitude we show towards time.

If we take a negative view of it, it instantly begins to mess up our plans. The more negative we feel, the less demotivated we are which leads to procrastination and a real lack of drive to get things done.

So, aside from the lengthy to do lists and packed diaries, what else should we do to manage time more effectively?

We need to re-frame thinking towards time.

For example, you may find yourself sat in a car during working hours and you call it ‘A waste of time’. Because we think like this, sitting in the car becomes a negative thing. But, what if you called it ‘Me Time’, or what about ‘Thinking Time’?

Just by changing the name of something re-frames how we think about time. So, calling it me time or thinking time changes the way we view it and makes us feel different about that time – hopefully better.

Same goes for saying ‘I never have enough time’. Say it enough and you will believe it. Once that belief sets in, it becomes very de-motivational. Thinking ‘I have lot’s to do, what am I going to do to make the time available’ puts you in a different mindset, one of which you are beginning to commit to making time.

Making more time seems an impossible task, when actually it can be quite easy. When was the last time you sat down and looked at how much time you were wasting, or how much of your time other people are taking.

We can quite easily get sucked into saying ‘yes’ to everything or taking on too much responsibility. Because yes is so much easier than saying no, we tend to say it more.

Saying no shouldn’t be a hard thing to do – if you know how. Just ensure that when you do say no, you have a reason or evidence to back up your reason for saying no.

So, don’t just focus on Time Management Tools and hope they will fix all of your problems. Take a step back and consider your attitude towards time. If your attitude is all wrong, then what’s the point in using the tools in the first place?

Want to find out more about time management? You could attend a time management course. Look no further that our training and development partner Revolution Learning and Development.

Their Time Management Workshop focuses on all of the points above – The Tools, Attitude, Dealing with people stealing your time and How to Say No. Take a look at their Time Management Training Course details here.

Time Management – The Pomodoro Technique®

If you find that your productivity varies from day to day. Some days you get lots done and others you struggle to get through all of your tasks then this little technique can help.

We often think that long hours and days packed full of tasks leads to higher productivity, but research from the University of Illinois in 2008 suggests otherwise. The study shows that being stuck at your desk and ploughing through tasks actually makes you less productive. Not only that it can also have an adverse impact on your health.

Taking regular short breaks though actually increases productivity.

The Pomodoro Technique, developed Francesco Cirillo in the 1980’s and shown in his book ‘The Pomodoro Technique‘ suggests that you break your tasks down into 25 minute sessions known as ‘A Pomodoro‘. Each session is then followed by a short break.

The name Pomodoro was taken from the tomato shaped kitchen timer that Cirillo used to manage his time at University.

As we mentioned before, the technique suggests you break your tasks down into 25 minute sessions, then take a quick 5 minute break after each before starting on your next task. After completing 4 tasks like this, take a longer break (such as your scheduled break or lunch) to fully rest.

This might seem counter-productive, but the research suggests that this approach means you are much more focused and therefore productive.

Here’s some tips to help with this tool:

Break up your tasks – take a look at your task list and break the tasks down into 25 minute sessions. You may want to experiment with times but 25 minutes is the recommendation.

Use a Timer – Set some form of timer to ensure you stick to your allocated time

Take Breaks – Be disciplined and take the breaks between tasks

Work on one task – When you break your tasks down, only work on one task in your allocated time

 

To find out more about using this and other time management techniques why not attend a time management training course. Look no further than our training and development partner Revolution Learning and Development Ltd. They’ve got them scheduled all across the UK. You can learn more about their Time Management Training Courses here.

 

Time Management Mistakes

Do you manage your time well? Do you feel as though you have too much to do and not enough time? Are you making any of these common time management mistakes?

Not Setting Personal Goals – Not having goals means you don’t have direction. Not having direction means you can easily get lost. Set yourself a goal each day or smaller goals throughout the day to help you get more done. There’s a physiological link to writing down your goals – it makes you more committed to achieving them

Not Having a Prioritised List – Lots of people use a to-do list, but not many people prioritise it. How do you know which tasks on your list are the most important and therefore the ones you should be working on? If you have no priorities then you likely go for the easy things (quick wins) first. This leaves little room for when those big unexpected cure balls come in

Not Prioritising – It’s not just your to-do list that needs to be prioritised, all tasks that you receive should be prioritised. Whether that be a customer request, a task for your boss or helping a colleague. Everything needs to come in an order or importance, not just who is shouting the loudest.

Not Getting Started – More commonly known as procrastination, if you just look at tasks or make excuses not to get them started you’re never going to get them finished. Find the value to you in every task and make yourself feel more motivated to complete them.

Getting Distracted – Do you find yourself getting sucked into conversations about football or X-Factor? Do you find that some tasks excite you more than others and you’re likely to drop one task to start another that is much more interesting? Then you’re not managing distractions effectively. Stick to your goals and to your plan.

Busy Doesn’t Mean Productive – Being busy doesn’t mean your getting more done. Take a look at this post here to find out why

Not Using a Schedule – If you use a to-do list or another way of capturing tasks then it potentially means you are not scheduling work effectively. Use a calendar to to schedule in your tasks.

If you need more help managing your time then why not attend a time management training courses. Look no further than our training and development partner Revolution Learning and Development Ltd. Take a look at their time management training course overview here.

What is Time Management?

We all get the same 24 hours in every day, so why is it that some of us seem to get more done that others?

Is it because some of us have less to do than others? Is it because some people are favoured more than others in a business so therefore get delegated to less. Is it linked to how motivated we are? Who knows, but one thing is for sure, those that get more done are good at managing their time.

So, what is time management?

Time management is about being more productive. It’s about getting high quality work done in the time that is available to us.

Here’s the thing. There’s often a common misconception that time management is about using a range of tools to manage tasks. This isn’t necessarily true as time management is much more about attitude and behaviour that having the tools.

Time management is getting the most from your day by prioritising, scheduling and planning out tasks. It’s about prioritising the tasks you are working on to ensure you are working on the most important tasks and not allowing the less important or valuable tasks to get in the way. It’s about achieving the goals that you set yourself or your business sets you.

As we mentioned before, having the tools to prioritise, plan and schedule are valuable but having the right attitude is also massively important. In order to manage yourself more effectively around the time you have available your mindset needs to be right – it needs to be positive.

You also need to be disciplined. If you choose an approach to managing your time you need to stick to it – regardless of how much pressure you’re under. It’s these tools and mindset that will get the tasks you have on your to-do list done.

Want to find out more about managing your time and becoming more productive? Then why not book yourself onto a time management training course. Look no further than your training and development partner Revolution Learning and Development Ltd. They’ve got them across the UK. Find out more by taking a look at their time management training course overview.

Want even more? Check out their 2 day Managing Yourself Personal Effectiveness Training Course.

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