Workplace interruptions can wreak havoc on project management production. The more people in your organization, the more potential there is for interruptions to occur. We’ve all heard about water cooler conversations where an interesting topic can attract a small crowd and in the meantime not much work is getting accomplished. Also, imagine that anytime a team member has a question they just barge in to their co-worker’s office. Multiple interruptions like this can slow down productivity and potentially cost the project time and money.
The use of email helps with time management, avoiding telephone interruptions or people stopping by unannounced. Communications can be responded to at a worker’s convenience rather than stopping and starting on important tasks.
However, another innovative project management idea might be to implement a “daily work break”. Not the kind where co-workers sit down and chat over a cup of coffee or where one plays Tetris to help clear the mind. Instead, this break is a one to two hour, interruption free, time to focus on work at hand. Possible rules might include:
- No one enters another person’s work space.
- No telephone calls between offices.
- No instant messaging
- No scheduled meetings.
- Outside callers will leave a message.
Of course, if there could be exceptions for emergencies.
The optimal time for such a break would probably be mid-morning, giving workers time to settle in before concentrating on work and allowing time to return phone calls before lunch.
Taking a daily work break can be an effective project management tool, but as project manager you must decide whether it is the best idea for your own team.