Managing Interruptions: Try These 5 Practical Time Management Strategies

As a business leader, it’s extremely likely that you’re being pulled in many different directions – often away from the tasks you’re trying to accomplish.  So many of our clients have reported that they often arrive at the end of the workday only to find that they’ve barely put a dent in their to-do lists.  If that sounds familiar, you aren’t alone. But it doesn’t have to stay that way. Ultimately, you can maximize your productivity by implementing any number of time-tested time management strategies.   

Of course, the time management strategies that will work best for you depends on the challenges you face as an individual.  For some, that may be learning how to best structure their day.  For others, it may mean committing to prioritizing and/or delegating tasks.  Regardless, there’s a universal truth we’ve come to recognize:

If you don’t know how to effectively manage interruptions,
all other time management strategies become (somewhat) useless.

Luckily, you can learn how to manage and minimize interruptions – just like any other time management skill.

The Top 5 Tips for Managing Interruptions

From C-level executives to mid-level managers, interruptions are a fact of life for business leaders.  But, when left unmanaged, unnecessary interruptions can devastate your productivity and increase your stress.  Here are some practical techniques you can put into action right away.

#1 – Assess Your Open-Door Policy

An open-door policy is a good policy to have.  Ultimately, when employees have informal access to their superiors, it increases employee engagement and improves internal communication.  But, it’s important to make sure the policy isn’t being abused.  Keep a log of which employees come by and how long they stay. You may discover yet another way in which the 80/20 rule applies to your professional life.

#2 – Implement “Productivity Periods”

When working on a task or project that requires complete focus, an interruption can set you back significantly – simply because it takes time to get your brain back on track.  Productivity periods are blocks of time when you (and hopefully your employees, too) turn off distractions and say “no” to non-urgent distractions.

#3 – Empower Employees to be Decision Makers

As a core tenet of The Coaching Mindset, employees should be encouraged to analyze situations, explore options and generate strategies – on their own.  Not only does this lead to an empowered and engaged workforce, but it also reduces interruptions because employees rely more on themselves (and less on you) to find answers.

#4 – Strategically Arrange Your Office

Stand in your doorway and look into your office.  Is there a comfortable seat right there, inviting people to come sit down?  Is it easy to catch your attention with a simple look? Of course, you don’t want to create an uninviting environment, but the arrangement of your office may be making it far too easy for employees to interrupt you instead of engaging in some strategic problem-solving for themselves.  

#5 – Adjust Your Behaviour 

There are some simple behavioural tricks that can help to limit the amount of time you give to unannounced interruptions without coming across as rude or unfriendly.

  • Stand when you have an unexpected visitor.  This nonverbal signal communicates that it’s not a good time for a long, wandering chat.

  • Define the amount of time you have to give.  It’s perfectly acceptable to tell people that it’s a busy day but you’re happy to take five minutes to talk.

  • Reschedule “drop-in” interruptions if you’re focused.  There’s nothing wrong with saying you can’t talk right then but could they come back at a certain time.

  • Ask “what’s on your mind” right away to avoid chitchat.

  • Practice conversation closers, such as “great, let’s reconnect on this tomorrow at 10:00.”

  • Physically move towards the door (or gesture subtly in its direction) if your visitor isn’t recognizing the cues.

Want More Than General Time Management Strategies?  Let’s Take Your Business to the Next Level with Customized Coaching!

At FocalPoint Canada, we guide our clients in overcoming challenges and leveraging opportunities with proven processes and methodologies that have been used by thousands of successful businesses over the past two decades.  Our FocalPoint business coaches use their expertise to teach our time-tested methods through individual coaching, group sessions, or trainings and workshops.

It all starts with a conversation.  Call us at 866-761-1616 or email


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