Another one from the book “Theory of Constraints” by Goldratt (guess this proves that I really liked it). It is about this person who is constantly distracted at work and finally gives up, saying that he (she) is “going home to work” and complete his (her) tasks.
I am sure that many people share the experience of this person. You come to work full of beans, but by the end of the day, unanticipated interruptions from your boss, co-workers, subordinates and customers have eaten up your entire day. And you have nothing to show for it.
How do you manage such a situation? An important part of the solution is to recognize that we cannot really blame other people for the interruptions. They view their interactions with us as necessary for their work. In fact, each of us may be interrupting many others in their work. This realization leads to the next step, i.e., to take control back.
Say, on a given day, you have to complete certain things. You have a mental plan that it will take “x” hours. If the “x” hours requires no interruptions, you have to create the circumstances. Start with informing those whom you can that you are going to be busy with some tasks and you will not be available until a certain time. A quick phone call to your immediate boss and a quick meeting with your subordinates can help. Also, it will help you to skip some unnecessary meetings. If your manager wants your time despite that, you can show your current workload and ask him or her to prioritize the tasks.
Setting up a temporary vacation reply message for your email can avoid interruptions. You can provide an emergency contact just in case of some totally difficult situation. Do not keep your email client open. Check it once every hour or so just to see if there is an emergency.
Planning ahead also can help. When you create your schedule for the next week or month, do not pack it with engagements that consume your entire workday. Schedule some parts of the week with free time that will serve as a buffer for work that spills over.
Then it is up to you. And you can still mess it up personally because there are a thousand other distractions that can keep you busy. Kathy Sierra can explain this much better than me: http://headrush.typepad.com/creating_passionate_users/2006/12/httpwww37signal.html