Tuesday, March 8, 2016



“Gotta minute?” How many times would you say you are interrupted in a day? 10 times? 20 times?  More?  If we really paid attention to how many times we are STOPPED from what we are doing, we might be truly surprised.  Because interruptions are so common-place, we tend to treat them with a grain of salt.  “Oh well, where was I?”  However, interruptions can be devastating to your business and other areas of your life that are important to you.


Interruptions can damage your business because they disrupt your “flow”, alter your train of thought, change your emotions and distract you from the business at hand.  They are damaging because they can be the reason you produce a less-than-superior product.  You might wind up with a product or service that is of inferior quality, just because you ran out of time! Interruptions interfered with your productivity.

Think of it this way: You’re watching a movie and you are in the “flow” of what is going on.  Your emotions are involved because right now you are at the height of intensity … suspense is building … who is it around that corner? … Oh NO!  What’s going to happen? … Then suddenly … TOOTHPASTE – INSURANCE – CAR DEALERSHIP commercials interrupt!  A
5-minute stream of commercials suddenly alters your emotions and takes you totally out of the moment. Where is the intensity?  Where is the emotion?  Where is the suspense? Gone with the wind!  Or should I say, “Gone with the commercials!”  Now the movie comes back on and you think, “Okay, where were we..? Oh yeah, that’s right.” And you try to pick up where you left off, but you’ve lost a lot of the “electricity” surrounding the moment.

The same thing can happen to us in business.  Let’s say you’re writing an article for your newsletter.  You’re deep in thought.  You’re in ‘the zone’, excited about what you are writing.  You can feel it!  Ideas are flowing from your fingers like water flowing from a faucet and you’re in sync with your subject.  Suddenly you hear, “Hey Bob, you’ve gotta see this!  It will only take a second!”  Your husband walks in from behind and says, “Hey honey, I need you to take care of this for me.  I’m in a hurry, and I’m running late.”  Five minutes later, you come back to the page and where are you? “Ummmm, let’s see, oh yeah …” but where is the emotion?  What happened to the flow of ideas?  Now you have to think harder to reach back and try to recapture where you were. Then the phone rings and you talk with a colleague for a few minutes.  By the time you get back to it for the 3rd or 4th time, you’re just ready to be done with it!  “I’ve just got to get this thing done so I can get it out there.”  And so you finish.  But you finish with a different product than you would have had you produced it uninterrupted. It’s “OK”, but not “GREAT!”  Over time, this can hurt your business.


But how can I manage interruptions when they are coming in from outside sources? THEY are interrupting ME, right?  It’s just something we all have to deal with and work around, right?  Not necessarily!  While it’s true that everyone will have the occasional unexpected emergency which must be addressed immediately, this should certainly be the exception rather than the rule.

The very first rule in managing inter-ruptions is to learn to say “Sorry, I can’t right now.”  Plain and simple!  It’s not always easy to do, but if we force ourselves to say “No” over and over again, people will get the idea that we are protective of our time and take our work very seriously.  Letting people know that you will be unavailable ahead of time is helpful too.

Truth is, we interrupt OURSELVES more than anyone else does!  You’re right in the middle of doing something important and suddenly you think, “Yikes! I was going to call Mary about…”  “Oh! I need to shoot Steve an email!”  “Man, I’m so hungry!  I think I’ll get something to eat!” We really need to learn how to discipline ourselves from constantly stopping ourselves in the middle of what we are doing.   


1.) Let others know you won’t be available.
2.) Make sure you have everything you need before you start a project.
3.) Silence your phone and email while you’re working on something important.
4.) Don’t make calls or send emails until you have completed your task.
5.) Learn to say “Not now” to would-be interrupters.
6.) Be determined to protect your time.

When we are crafting our next presentation, writing a newsletter, planning our strategy, reading an important book, following up with customers, or anything else related to our productivity, we need to discipline ourselves to say “No” to others AND to ourselves in order to stay on task until it is completed.  Don’t let inter- ruptions devastate YOUR business!

Leanne Cannon