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Decide: Work Smarter, Reduce Your Stress, and Lead by Example by Steve McClatchy

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Chapter 7

Managing Interruptions

And now, excuse me while I interrupt myself.

—Murray Walker

Now that you're armed with a plan, you can use it to keep your brain on a short leash and stay focused. But what happens when you have to deal with the interruptions and distractions that come from working with other people? Has anyone ever surprised you with an urgent request that took you so far off your plan that you never actually returned to what you were doing for the rest of the day?

It's incredibly frustrating to end a day feeling as if you made no progress on your work. After all, you were sitting right in front of it all day, weren't you? But you didn't even get through all your Prevent Pain tasks. So what happened? Occasionally—and probably more often than we'd like—the actual amount of time that you spend doing productive and focused work may be less than your optimal level.

Interruptions and distractions are inevitable in most work environments. Even people who work from home and can avoid the office atmosphere contend regularly with unplanned phone calls, e-mails, their own thoughts, mail delivery, kids, pets, and anyone else that happens to skate, run, or walk by the door during the day. Thankfully, most of these diversions are brief. I have worked in office environments that were filled with chronic work and nonwork-related distractions—including teams that routinely held meetings in open areas where everyone could hear them, a busy central printer location near my desk, ...

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