Work Interruptions=high stress= low energy: Five Tips For Controlling Them

4 years ago




   By Irene Ross, CHHC, AADP, Certified Nutrition and Health Coach


We’ve all heard that wail:  “I have so much work, how will I get it all done!” 

All the while, the work just keeps piling up.  So does the stress, which can lead to headaches, weight gain, and sleeplessness, among other things.

And it’s an energy zapper!

According to Psychologist/Executive Coach Dr. Sharon Melnick, the average business person has 7 interruptions per day, with each taking approximately 15 minutes to re-focus.  But you can control these disruptions, focus, and finish the work that keeps your job secure—and keeps you less stressed and anxious.

First, you must thoroughly understand your interruptions. “There’s no ‘one size fits all’, Dr. Menick says, “so, there’ll always be some you’ll want to handle right away, others you'll want to triage to figure out the best time to handle, and others you'll want to curtail altogether.”  

Some ways to control your work environment are:

  1. Use voicemail!  Gale Steves, author of Right-Sizing Your Home, used to allot a specific time just for handling the phone. “I found it difficult to refocus when abruptly interrupted,” she said.  “I left an outgoing voicemail message stating that I would call them back after 3 PM.  It announced my intentions and gave them a promise to hear from me,” she said.
  2.  Rank e-mails.  Not every e-mail needs to be replied to the instant it comes in, so block some time each day to tend to them. If you wish, add an e-mail auto-responder.
  3. Categorize your to-do list in order of urgency and deadline. Also add: What action is required?   What is the desired result?  Is follow-up needed?  Some interruptions may be pressing to others, but they may not be for you—this exercise will help you determine which is which.
  4. Control those chatty co-workers. “When someone comes into your office, either to share an experience, vent, or ask a favor, give them just enough time to show respect and see where they’re going,” says Dr. Melnick.  “Then cut it off by asking this question, ‘How specifically can I help you?’ This will usually stop them from babbling because they’ll have to think about their response.  If they say, ‘I just need to vent,’ say, ‘Great!  I have 5 minutes before I have to leave to my next meeting.’”
  5. Unclutter your office!  If you spend far too much time looking for files, or if you’re constantly tripping over papers, it’s time to organize and clean up your space.


My blog posts cover wellness for Body, Mind and Spirit; to read more posts, please visit:




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