The High Cost of the Interruption Culture and How to Stop Paying It

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When people talk about “the interruption culture” in today’s workplace, they often sound resigned to it – as though it can’t be changed and therefore must be tolerated.

They are wrong. The interruption culture destroys productivity, work satisfaction and life satisfaction. It should not be tolerated, and it can be changed. Eliminating the interruption culture means learning some new, entirely learnable skills.

Personalize the cost

First, to be motivated, you need to calculate the time you lose to interruptions – and not just the interruption itself but all the other lost time and energy the interruptions cause. Warning: If you’re like most, interruptions are costing you three to five hours a day!


Time lock for an interruption-free period

Time locking means carving out a specified period of time to devote to an important task, allowing no interruptions other than emergencies. It means politely explaining to those who would interrupt you why you’re time locking, why it’s in the interrupters’ best interest, letting them know how and when you will follow up, and making sure they are comfortable with your explanation and plan.

Focal lock against yourself

Even when others or our devices are not being interrupting us, we interrupt ourselves by daydreaming or diversions. Focal locking means gaining mastery over our own minds. Just a few powerful but simple techniques will help you undo old habits and make full use of the time your time lock restores.

Allocate the time regained

Once you have reclaimed time that used to be stolen by interruptions, you want to use the time wisely, not treat it like a surplus. That means deliberately separating your obligations into the handful that are the most important (your “critical few”) and then all the rest (your “minor many”).

Batch processing

Batch processing restores your time by letting you efficiently dispose of repetitive or homogeneous tasks. Carving out a time for batching them saves more time and energy than sprinkling them throughout the day as they come up.

The interruption culture is not inevitable, and it is not harmless. If you can eliminate interruptions with the cooperation of your interrupters, you can improve your company’s competitiveness, your own job and life satisfaction, and that of your fellow employees.

Source: Smart Business Blog