Stop Co-Worker Interruptions [video]

Who interrupts you at work?

In my last couple of videos, I talked about how lawyers can prevent interruptions from clients by setting a communications policy and not taking unplanned telephone calls.

But what happens when the interruption comes not from clients, but from inside your own organization?

Do any of these interruptions sound familiar?

  • The colleague who is taking a break from their own work and stops by your office to chat when you’re in the middle of something else.
  • The associate who wants to discuss case strategy with you the minute you walk in the door.
  • Your legal assistant or paralegal who just has “one quick question” – 10 times a day.

To avoid this, you need to set expectations with people in your firm or organization in the same way you do with your clients.

Sit down with the people you frequently interact with, such as your paralegal or legal assistant, and work together to create a strategy that works for both of you. Decide on specific times you will meet with them during the day and ask them to hold all non-urgent questions to ask at once during that time – and make sure you define what you mean by urgent and non-urgent questions. For example, you might want to meet with your assistant first thing in the morning to go over your schedule, the projects they are working on, and set priorities for the day. Then you might meet again in the early afternoon and then shortly before the end of the day to check progress or make sure work that needs to be done by the end of the day is completed.

Close your door when you are working on a focused project. Block out the time on your calendar as an appointment so those with access to your calendar can see that you are unavailable. Put your phone on do not disturb. Tell your assistant to let visitors know not to interrupt you.

If a colleague does interrupt you, give them an alternative time when you are free. Offer to chat with your colleague over lunch or coffee later in the day. Have the associate make an appointment on your calendar to discuss their case. Or consider creating regular office hours when your door is open and you are available for questions.

Do you want help eliminating interruptions and creating your own communications policy? Give me a call.

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