• Paul W

Sending a Focus Zone Signal

Our most recent research project at AJC revealed that the primary impediments to getting work done efficiently are distractions and interruptions.

As most of us would acknowledge, we are probably culpable for allowing ourselves to be distracted, or interrupted, without putting something in place to tell people to please leave me in peace. In many cases, those interruptions occur before we are able to tell people to leave us alone to work.

So how can we send a signal, in order to tell people that we are in our ‘Focus Zone’ and that we need some time and space to work? My wife and I are both musicians, and when either of us are practicing, everyone else in the house can hear us, and it is very clear that we need to be left in peace (unless dinner is ready, in which case it is fine for me to be interrupted).

But since business people don’t all play instruments, and that wouldn’t work in an office environment anyway, what else can we do to signal that we don’t want to be interrupted?

When it comes to email, a good way to let people know that you are not available until say 10:30AM, the Out of Office autoresponder tool is an excellent and much underused option. When people receive your autoresponder, they will know not to bother you again, or to check for your email response.

For in-office scenarios, you can simply tell those around you that you are closing your door (even if you don’t have one) and that you need to be left alone for an hour or so to finish up a project. You could also wear a luminous vest (like a construction site worker) which means Do Not Disturb, or even a baseball cap or something (we did this with some of our clients and saw a marked improvement in productivity).

It doesn’t really matter what you use – what is most important is to send out a message that tells everyone you are entering your ‘Focus Zone’ and you need to be left alone for a short period of time.