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Help! I Keep Getting Interrupted!

Design “Uninterruptible Time”

Increase your effectiveness when working on projects!


Office life: young employee knocking on his boss door


Benefit: This allows you to have laser focus on your project without distractions for a set period of time.  You will be getting more done in less time.

Each time you are distracted from something that requires a lot of focus, there is a time delay to regain that full focus and creativity.  This can add up to a lot of time not well used plus increased frustration.




Design:  Well designed uninterruptible time will not be a burden for your coworkers or add more to your To Do List.  First, determine which projects will benefit from uninterruptible time.  Select the appropriate number of hours per week that fit with your job (30 – 90 minute time slots.  90 minutes maximum for best focus).  Then determine which days and what time of day will be least inconvenient for your coworkers and have the least number of return calls for you to make at the end.  Schedule it on your calendar.

Set Up: Notify the people that would usually be in contact with you during the times you selected.  Let them know that you want to give them your full attention when you talk and that you will now be using these time slots to specifically work on projects that will benefit from intense focus.  Ask them to please support you by contacting you before or after that time slot unless there is something urgent.  (Very important to do this in an empowering way.  If you do this in such a way that people feel you are pulling away or not in support of them you will create conflict plus make more work for yourself.)

Making It StickThis is crucial! It is up to you to have this tool work for you (not waiting for others to cooperate).  If you have a door – close it.  Discipline yourself to now only work on that project.  Do not check emails – turn your computer screen around or off.  If someone knocks on your door and asks if you have a minute, say very nicely “I’m working on my project, is this truly urgent?  If not, I will be fully available at ___ time.  I look forward to talking with you then.”  Of course, if it is urgent take care of the situation.  If not, refocus on your project.  It may take a few times doing this to support your coworkers in adjusting to this new system.  Also, on occasion you may need to reschedule your uninterruptible time when a higher priority item needs your attention.  If this happens, don’t throw in the towel on this tool – just reschedule your uninterruptible time and get back on track.

Support: I encourage all of us to support others when they are using uninterruptible time to maximize their focus and creativity on their projects.

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