20 Creative Ways to Handle Interruptions

Interruptions at work are inevitable. While some are necessary as part of your job, others are not … and work interruptionswaste not only the time it takes to deal with the interrupter, but also the time it takes you to regain your train of thought and get back on track.

The average office worker is interrupted or switches tasks every three minutes and five seconds, reports the washingtonpost.com.


Take a look at some creative ways to deal with interruptions:

  1. Say, “I can meet you in the conference room at 2 p.m. and give you 15 minutes”
  2. Ask, “Would you like me to ask the ___ (boss/colonel/senior partner/principal) if I can delay the project I was just given so that you and I can discuss your issue?”
  3. Appoint alternate points of contact: “Joanne is taking calls on that while I finish the monthly report”
  4. If possible, rearrange your work space so you don’t make eye contact with passersby
  5. work lunch at parkStand up if the talker enters your office
  6. Turn off read receipts on your email. People can tell when you’re in the office
  7. Turn off email alerts
  8. Post a sign on your door, cube, or chair that says what time you’ll be available
  9. Put on a telephone headset and, if you hear someone behind you, say (as though you’re on the phone), “I’m looking at that spreadsheet now. Tell me which cell is the one you’re questioning.”
  10. Develop a fake cough. Grab tissues whenever someone comes in the office.
  11. Run for the restroom
  12. As you pass a co-worker with whom you might chat, say, “I can’t wait to hear about your vacation. I’ll meet you in the lobby at 11:30 and we can go for a walk at lunch.”
  13. Park your car in the lot across the street so your vehicle isn’t recognized, or get off two stops early at your train or bus station and walk
  14. Eat lunch in a nearby park, not at your desk
  15. Caution tape across office entranceHave a file of stuff you need to deliver elsewhere. Ask a visitor to take a report to accounting for you.
  16. Say to the least technologically competent of your visitors, “I am having trouble with my computer”
  17. If you must have a visitor chair, put a pile of junk on it
  18. Put crime scene tape across your doorway.
  19. Start the timer on your cell phone and tell the interrupter you have to leave when it sounds
  20. Keep a coat by your door. Grab it and say, “I was just going out.”


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