Hi, this is Cyril from Work Smarter Live Better. In this video I want to talk about a big time waster called “Interruption”.

We work with a lot of big corporates, not only in Australia but around the world. Many corporates have moved from offices to open plan, and some from open plan to what they call activity based environment. And this is great for collaboration. You see people more, you bump into them, you can exchange ideas. But it has one big drawback, which is concentration. 

You are working in an open plan. You are at your desk and someone come and say “Can I talk to you for a minute? I just got something to share.” There are two big issues here. One is you might be in deep concentration on something important. It breaks your concentration and it really has impact on the quality of your work. The other problem is that added together those little five minutes, which by the way always turn out to be more ten to fifteen, multiplied by the number of times per day, start to be a big time waster for a lot of people.

There are some strategies to avoid being interrupted but if you are being interrupted, before jumping into the interruptions, think about a filter in your brain and the filter is an assessment. There are three questions I highly suggest you ask.

The first question is “How can I help?” Quite often people who wander around don’t need any help. They just need to talk. Which is fine but it needs to be done at the right time, not when you’re in deep work or concentration. So “How can I help?”

Then go forward and say “What is specifically is the problem? What is the issue?”

And then the third filter I put is “How urgent and important?”

So “How can I help?”

“What’s specifically is the problem?”

And “How urgent is important?” 

And then I have a four D filter in my mind. Most people go straight to the last D for do, they jump into the interruptions. There are three other steps

The first step is “Decline / Delete” and say “Sorry, I can’t help you”. Now you want to help if you can, but there’s time and place where you can’t help the person. So that’s an option.

The second option is what I call “Delegate” and delegate is “Great, I’m not the right person to ask this question. Ask John” so you delegate. Now that’s the second D.

The third D is you “Defer”. “Look, great. We need to talk about it. I need to finish that work. Can we talk about it this afternoon or at lunch time?” So third you “Defer”.

And it’s only the number four which is you “Do”, which is you jump into the interruptions.

So you assess first and then you try to diffuse it by having one of those four strategies.

With some of my clients, we practice and rehearse it. Focus is so important. We put quite a few strategies around how they can stay focus. This is one of them, but really important is to diffuse the interruption you’re getting.

This is this week Work Smarter Live Better tip. I hope you enjoyed it. If you do, share it. Try to think about how you can keep more focus in your workplace. This is very important. And managing interruption is one of them.

You have a lovely day, take care, cheers.

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