Sep 7, 2010

Productive Executive/Manager Secrets - Manage Interruptions, FREE e-book


As all managers and other professionals know, our work is driven by interruptions. It's not merely that you get interrupted during work; the interruptions ARE your work.

It sometimes seems like the single most prominent part of work is interruption. As someone put it, “You don’t work at work any more.’’

With five-dozen strategies listed in this report, I have increased my focus, motivation, satisfaction, and productivity by 30 percent in just one month. And I wasn’t that exhausted at the end of the day. Some other managers I know did the same.

The average manager is interrupted six times an hour. And following each interruption, it can take them more than five minutes to get back into their tasks.

Research from the University of California indicates that it takes between six and 20 minutes to recover and refocus after you are interrupted.

So, not only are you using up time during the actual interruption, you are also expending additional time to get back on track with the work you were doing before you were interrupted

TIME LOST FROM THE TASK YOU WERE DOING =

TIME OF ACTUAL INTERRUPTION
+
TIME TO REFOCUS

The brain requires cycle time to process the data needed to handle an interruption, track back to the original task, remember what the original goal was, then move towards completing that task.

WHO ARE THE BIGGEST INTERRUPTERS?

The biggest interrupters are generally e-mail, other people dropping by, and the phone.

WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS of INTERRUPTION?

• Reduced productivity
• Reduced quality of work
• Increased stress, lower quality of life
According to NFI’s research of 200 executives and managers, four out of five managers and executives are stressed at work, and a third are highly stressed. Slightly more managers than executives are stressed

The leading causes of stress are deadlines (52%), interruptions (42%), conflicting responsibilities (37%), expectations(35%), e-mail overload (35%) etc.

GOOD AND BAD INTERRUPTIONS

Can’t we simply eliminate all interruptions at work?

No, as work and life are being designed for interruptions, and
(are you ready for this?):
Other sources boldly confirm that if interruptions make you crazy, stay out of management.

Your job is to manage resources: both physical and human. That includes your time and, most important, yourself. Because you are supposed to set an example for others you walk the talk. In other words, you are going to have to manage interruptions that come with the job, keep control, reduce the effect of interruptions on productivity, and set a good example.

And let me remind you:
Not all is bad.
Not all interruptions are “the bad guys’’ because you need some good interruptions. Good interruptions? No, I am not joking. Like everything else, interruptions are good and bad.

A lot of professionals address the "good" interruptions, such as those that are crucial and important. Those are not the concern.

What prevents us from achieving higher levels of productivity are the "bad" interruptions, those that have little or no value.

When are interruptions good?

When you are getting:
• Crucial information related to what you are already doing
• Information that pertains to your current work tasks
• Valuable information that contributes to productivity

When interruptions harm you

Whether interruptions are harmful depends on:
1. Duration of the workload
2. What you are doing
3. Your personality

1. Duration of the workload
The duration of the workload influences the duration of the recovery time:

- Short workload generates low recovery time
- Long workload generates long recovery

2. What are you doing?
Distractions have negative consequences for the person being interrupted if a person is:

- working on an engaging task, or
- trying to complete a task quickly.

Interruptions that occur during tasks that need concentration and focus cause the biggest impairment  in other words, tasks that are complex and require that person’s full attention. These are also tasks that take the longest to “get back up to speed” with when we return to them.

3. Your personality
Interruptions are regarded as more of a hindrance if a person is more sensitive to external stimuli.
Some people are more adept at ignoring distractions than others. Some are more impatient and time conscious, while others are inclined to be easygoing.

It seems certain personality types like being in a zone with no interruptions, while others can't stand the quiet and either look for, or fabricate, a steady stream of trivial "issues", "problems" etc. that need to be discussed "right now".

When interruptions do not do much harm

While interruptions are problematic (even switching from one project to another), routine or familiar work can often be interrupted without negatively affecting performance.

INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL
INTERRUPTIONS

Yes, you can interrupt yourself

I can and do.

Some interruptions are from external sources. A person arrives, your e-mail alert comes on, the phone rings, people chat through the cubicle wall to you, someone calls your name. Those are external interruptions.

But there are also internal interruptions; for whatever reason, people interrupt themselves of their own volition and switch to something else.

People are as likely to interrupt themselves as be interrupted.

Gallup researchers recently interviewed managers, financial analysts, software developers, engineers, and project leaders and came up with a fascinating discovery: that people interrupt themselves almost as much as they are interrupted by external sources. They interrupt themselves about 44% of the time.

The rest of the interruptions are from external sources.

HOW TO DEAL WITH INTERNAL INTERRUPTIONS

I have listed a few possible reasons why you “interrupt yourself.’’
These reasons are:
1. YOUR FOCUS
2. PROCRASTINATION
3. MULTITASKING

Find solutions for each one in my e-book ''Manage Interruptions at work'' by joining mailing list now. That will make you nearly twice as productive.

EXTERNAL INTERRUPTIONS: STRATEGIES THAT REALLY WORK
Who suffers the most?

Managers experience far more external interruptions than internal interruptions than other workers.

Managers have a huge network of people who come in and interrupt them. Analysts and developers are involved with a smaller network of people, so they have fewer external interruptions. But the fact remains; they still have a lot of internal interruptions.

Some have suggested they unconsciously encourage interruptions to get out of difficult tasks.

We split external interruptions into the following categories:
1. Technology (e-mail, phone)
2. People
o Your team/your people
o Peers, colleagues, and everyone else (others)
o Customers
o Your boss
o Friends and family
3. Meetings (formal and informal)
4. Corporate culture (open-door communication encouraged)

Find out exact steps how to deal with each category, increase your productivity, and improve your performance while preserving your personal and professional credibility.

You will be able to choose the best strategy depending on your industry, position and category of interruption you have to deal with.

Some of additional management tips you will find:
• What to do if an employee wants to talk to you about an issue while you are in the middle of something complex/urgent or both?
• How not to be a “WORKUS INTERRUPTUS’’ Manager
• How not to burn bridges, but at the same time avoid productivity killers walking all over them
• What to do and say when you cannot help them right now
• Body language that keeps them away
• What about “bad guys’’ who never get the message?
• Drastic measures – when nothing else works
• Examples
• Exercise that will make you feel better immediately

You will find all that combined with solid management tips in my free 56 pages e-book by joining our mailing list now. We will never abuse, sell or rent your e-mail address and you can unsubscribe at any time, if you don’t want to receive any more news, updates or valuable resources from us.

Remember management can make or break a company.
You DO matter, your results matter. Make your mark. Be a great manager! Give it all you’ve got!

Good luck and let me know what works for you,
Ljiljana

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