Lower the stress – cut the interruptions

I found a simple way to lower the stress in my life and be more effective at my work. It’s something you may not consider from a tech-guy like me, but after several weeks, I find myself more productive and less stressed.

The answer – I turned off the interruptions from devices. I silenced the beeps and alerts on my email. I also close email, RSS readers, etc until I’m ready to read/answer messages. Want to try it? Start by silencing your phone when you want to get something done – that includes turning off the buzz feature. Really!

Many of those alerts are for things that don’t concern you when you’re in the moment. They distract you and

it takes brain power to get back in the moment.

I know, you’re probably saying “But Chuck, I’m in support…” or “My customers have to be able to reach me any time.” No they don’t. Think of it from the other way around. What happens when you try calling a vendor or client and they aren’t available? You leave a message. Are you offended or annoyed by this? I’m guessing not. The expectation is that they will listen and respond to your messa

ge in a reasonable amount of time. (If they’re REALLY good, their voice mail message or email out-of-office notice will list when they will and won’t be available.)

When you send email, do you expect an immediate response? Of course not. It’s an inbox, a queue, that’s what it’s for – gather messages for later processing. In fact, there are some people (particularly those in upper management) that I would question if they had enough to do if they responded immediately.

Try it for a day… see how it goes. Start with your email and your phone. Turn off alerts, sounds, display items that jump up, and anything that could take your distraction away and find out how much more you can get done. Now work!

When you’ve finished a task or problem you’ll find you get it done quicker when you’re not interrupted. A few times a day, check your messages, get them done, then put away your email, phone or whatever.

If you’ve mastered that and want to move to something more difficult, try forwarding your desk phone to voice mail? Think it’s too impersonal? OK, try this… It’s 10:00AM and your boss tells you he needs a document from you by noon. You know it’s going to take at least an hour to write. What do you do? Answer every phone call, email, and text message that gets your attention? Of course not. You focus like a laser and take those out of the way. So why is a document from your boss any different than any other task you need to get done?

Turn those things off when you really want to work.

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3 Responses to Lower the stress – cut the interruptions

  1. Suneetha Pothireddy says:

    Hi Chuck: I love ur lower stress technique. Let me try for few days and let’s see if it works out for me.

    Thanks, Suneetha

  2. Bettey Tomasi says:

    Hi Chuck,
    Just found this and enjoyed one of your March 2012 entries re: lowering stress levels. Some of your ideas can apply even if one doesn’t work in an office. I’ll keep this in my inbox so I can read some other of your great suggestions. Thanks and love, Mom

  3. Chuck says:

    Another thing I’ve discovered since writing this article is the “Do not disturb” feature on my iPhone. It allowed me to turn off notifications either manually (when I want) or scheduled (from 10PM to 7AM) and still allow “important” messages/calls to come through such as those from Julie, Liisa, or Donna. My nights have become much more restful and it allows me to hold all the Facebook, USA Today, weather, and other alerts that normally plague my device.

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