On many occasions, my clients ask me how to manage interruptions when they are trying to do work, either in a home office or in a work place.
As staying on task for adults with ADHD is often challenging, having outside interruptions can prove to be “the straw that breaks the camel’s back.”
There are strategies to handle this, though.
Making A Choice
Does it seem rude to you not to talk to someone when they come to your office or cube? If it does, you may knowingly or unknowingly be holding one or more the following assumptions.
- “I have no choice in the matter.”
- “If I tell someone that I am busy, whatever I say will be rude.”
- “Since I allow people to interrupt me, then what they have to say must be more important than what I have to do.”
Of course, you are making a choice when you allow distractions to get in the way of doing what you say you want to do.
You may make the choice to say: “I really would like to discuss this with you. I need to get this report done now. Do you have time to talk about this tomorrow at 10:00?”
Sounds like a win-win situation to me. How does it sound to you?
Below are some strategies that you may use to minimize the likelihood of intrusions. Please experiment with those that feel authentic to you, and fit with the culture of your work place.
1. Determine when you work best, and, whenever possible, set aside this time by making an appointment in your calendar.
2. Prepare for your work time by making sure that you:
- identify exactly what you want to do during the time you have available.
- have all the information and materials you need beforehand. This way you will not have to ask someone for help, and potentially get side tracked.
- have music/white noise ready, if you need it.
- set aside food and drink.
3. Close your door.
4. If it would be appropriate or you feel the need, explain to the appropriate people what you are doing. “I’m trying to be more productive by cutting down on my interruptions. I thought closing the door might help. Do you need anything before I get to work? I’ll have my door closed from 10:00-11:30.”
5. Let the machine or answering service get your messages.
6. Don’t check your email. Close it, if that would help.
7. Are there other potential distractions? What do you need to do to minimize these? I think you will be surprised at how much work you can get done when you set an intention and create a plan.
ADDed Perspectives Bottom Line
By preparing in advance you can reduce the number of interruptions and distractions at work. What choices do you want to make so you can be more productive?