Workplace Interruptions: Examples & Solutions

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  • 0:04 Do Not Disturb
  • 0:50 Interruptions & Solutions
  • 4:45 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

Workplace interruptions come in all shapes and forms. In this lesson, you'll learn more about common types of workplace distractions and various solutions for handling interruptions as they are thrown at you.

Do Not Disturb

When you're in a hotel and want a little privacy, you can hang a ''Do Not Disturb'' sign on the handle of your door. When you need a break from all of your phone calls, text messages, and notifications, you can switch on a ''Do Not Disturb'' function. So, when a co-worker is talking your ear off about what they did over the weekend, you can...just deal with it?

Unfortunately, there's no ''Do Not Disturb'' option for the disruptions and interruptions that the workplace throws at you. Whether it's the constant ''ding'' of your email program alerting you to new messages or unexpected visitors stopping by your office, interruptions are things to be managed, though, unfortunately, not avoided altogether.

In this lesson, we'll take a look at a few of the most common types of workplace interruptions as well as some helpful time management methods for limiting and dealing with them.

Interruptions & Solutions

In today's busy work environment, there isn't a single point of distraction for workers, but rather multiple points vying for our attention from the time we clock in until the five o'clock whistle sounds. Here are a few of the most pervasive interruptions - whether you're in a warehouse, an office, or on a construction site.


Whether it's a co-worker dropping by your office to chat about the latest office gossip or unexpected visitors such as clients showing up unannounced, people are the number one distraction that most of us have to deal with at work.

While it can be hard to handle unexpected visitors without appearing rude, it can be done. Depending on who it is, express that you only have a few minutes in which to chat. Step outside your office into a more uncomfortable place to talk, such as a hallway. If someone enters your work space and has outstayed their welcome, wrap up the conversation by subtly standing up and moving toward the door.


Let's face it - technology is great, but it's also hugely disruptive. Emails frequently come with pop-up windows and sounds alerting you to their arrival; the telephone rings; your smartphone shows notifications from text messages and social media profiles; and the World Wide Web is just at the end of your fingertips on that computer you use all day.

You can deal with these types of interruptions by committing to checking your email inbox only two to three times a day and by shutting off the automatic notifications. Silence your phone (both your work line and your smartphone) when important matters are pressing, and resolve to limit your screen time on non-essential tasks by setting a timer to limit yourself or installing software or apps that will keep you accountable.


There are a thousand jokes out there about the productivity-sucking nature of meetings. They can be construed as a waste of time or, at the very least, a disruption in the work you need to do that's piling up on your desk.

Unfortunately, while you probably can't get out of attending meetings at work, you can do a better job safeguarding your time when you're not in one. Schedule meetings with yourself by assigning time for important tasks, and when you're attending meetings, show up prepared with comments and contributions that will help move the meeting along at a reasonable pace.

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