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Interruptions are one of the worst things to deal with while you’re trying to get work done. We live in a society where many want things done right then and there, so even if your head is hidden behind a giant stack of paperwork and you’re on the phone, there are those who will march right up with an issue without so much as an “excuse me.” When you want to avoid interruptions at work, there are several ways to handle things that don’t involve you giving anyone attitude.

Learn to say no

If you’re busy, don’t feel bad about saying no when someone interrupts you. Tell the person you’re sorry, explain that you’re deep in a project and have a million things to do or whatever the case may be, then ask if the two of you can talk at a different time.

Have available hours

When people try to interrupt you, have set hours planned and let them know to come back during that time or that you’ll find them then. Another option is to have the same hours planned each day when you’re available and make them known. For example, if someone interrupts you, let him know when exactly it is you usually take your break. It can help to eliminate future interruptions.

Block distractions

When you’re really busy, send all calls to voicemail and don’t respond to emails. People will (eventually) get the hint that you’re unavailable.

Take it to another area

When you’re really busy and taking a few minutes to talk to someone, do it in another area. If you’re in the person’s office or in a neutral area, it’s much easier to excuse yourself to get back to your work than if you try to get someone out of your space even after explaining how busy you are.

Use the door

If you have a door to your office, make good use of it. Leave it open when you’re available to talk and close it when you’re not. If someone knocks and it’s not an important matter, excuse yourself and let the person know you’re busy so they can get the hint that when the door is closed, you’re not to be disturbed.

It might seem a bit harsh to cut people short when they interrupt you, but if we left ourselves available to everyone who needed our time and energy, we would never be able to get our own things done. There’s a time and a place for us to share our time with others and at work with a to-do list a mile long in front of us is not it unless it’s incredibly important. Set boundaries for yourself as far as your time goes and you’ll significantly cut back on how many people interrupt you.

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