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Productivity Tips: Preventing Interruptions

Interruptions are a problem for anybody whose work requires concentration for a block of time. The ability to focus is necessary for problem solving tasks and creative work like writing.

If you need an interruption-free block of time, here are some tips:

Close the Door

If you can't close the door to your office or work space, try putting up a "Do Not Disturb" sign when you need a block of time.

It's easy to pull a string across a door frame (use tape on either end if there's nothing to tie it to) with a polite little "Do Not Disturb" card hanging from the middle. Then, people can see you and flag you in an emergency while still knowing you need concentration time.

Negotiate Blocks of Time

Clearly communicate to others in your office or home that if they leave you alone for these blocks of time, you will make yourself available at other times. Negotiate the length of the blocks of time if necessary.

Mute Notifications

No cell phones Turn off the ringer on your phone (both land line and cell phone). Mute notifications such as text messages. Anything short of an air raid can wait an hour or two.

If you need a block of time greater than an hour and are concerned about missing an emergency, include checking your messages as part of a scheduled coffee or bathroom break.

Make Sure Pets and Children Are Occupied

If you work in a home office, you may have to juggle other responsibilities. Before starting work, verify that pets and children are taken care of, fed, let outside, or otherwise occupied. Hire a sitter for short periods or swap care-taking with a friend or co-worker if you need to.


Yes, some self-control is necessary.

Do not check your email. Seriously. And don't even think about social media.