Tax & Accounting Blog

Dealing with the Office Interrupter

Accounting Firms, Business Practices December 30, 2014

If you’ve got a workmate who constantly stops by your office and interrupts your work with questions or nonwork-related chatter, odds are good that you’re frustrated. Worse, you’re probably losing productivity. When a work task gets interrupted, it takes longer to complete – and the work is likely to have more errors than it would if you hadn’t been interrupted. The next time the office distracter makes a beeline for you, try these tactics to fend him off.

Put a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your office door when you need to concentrate without interruption. If you work in a cubicle or an open floor plan, put the sign on your desk or the wall of your cube. Reposition your desk so that you’re working with your back to the doorway. People are less tempted to engage you in conversation when they can’t catch your eye.

If your intrusive workmate continues to barge in, explain that you’re on a deadline and that you’ll get back to her later. You could say, “I’m in the middle of a project now. Could we talk at four o’clock?”

Be honest. Explain that his frequent interruptions are problematic for you. If the interrupter is prone to small talk, say you enjoy talking with him (if it’s true), but you need to catch up at times that don’t interfere with work. Suggest having lunch together or coffee before work.

If the interrupter is new to your company and her intrusions stem from a need for instruction, ask her to make a list of questions and establish a daily time to answer them. Perhaps she needs a tutorial on the computer system or an explanation about how client files are stored and organized.

As a last resort, wear headphones. Even if you’re not actually listening to music, you’ll send the message that you want to be left alone.

What other tactics have you used to successfully fend off interrupters? Share it here with other readers.