Did Not Disturb: Express your gratitude to those who minimize interruptions and distractions

Happy BabyMy friend, Happy F., sent me this image and it made me smile. The lovely message reminded me of the importance of letting others know that you appreciate the positive things they do—especially when they help you fight interruptions and distractions.

For example, here is a great interaction between co-workers:

Colleague: “I waited until tonight to call because I know you’re busy finishing your project.”

Project Manager: “Wow, that’s terrific. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that. It’s so hard for me to ignore a ringing phone. I feel the pull even when the phone is set on vibrate and I’m in the library.”

In a busy office, interruptions may occur every few minutes. At the end of the day, you wonder what has really been accomplished. One report states, “The average office worker is interrupted seventy-three times every day. And the average manager is interrupted every eight minutes.  Once there is an interruption, some statistics tell us that it takes up to 20 minutes to get back to the level of concentration that we were at prior to the disruption.” (http://interruptions.net/literature/CubeSmart-productivity-wp1.pdf )

The Others Demon is insidious and triggers distractions all day, and sometimes, all night. People want to “just ask one question,” “just tell one quick joke” or “just touch base.” Your job is to let others know when you are and aren’t available. Their job is to not interrupt or distract you. When others are sensitive and considerate of your time and attention, you need to express your gratitude. Too often, you may get so exasperated and irritable that you forget to accentuate the positive. You might replay the negative situations and forget about the few—but important—instances where those around you were helpful. However, if you don’t take the time to recognize those who promote your productivity, they might not feel encouraged to continue doing so.

Do Not DisturbYou’ve probably noticed that almost every book published has a clearly defined section for “acknowledgements.”  In everyday situations, you can create opportunities to acknowledge the help of others. Some channels are formal, such as a letter of praise in a personnel file or a “thank you” included in the agenda of a staff meeting. But there are also informal and spontaneous ways to show your appreciation for the considerate behavior of others. Whether you send a photo, a personal note, or provide a simple compliment, let others know how much you appreciate their help when you are attempting to concentrate and need peace and quiet.

Here are a few ways you can tell others, “You’re awesome because you help me focus and be productive.”

  • Written messages: send an email, thank-you note, greeting card, cartoon or photo.
  • Verbal messages: Provide a thank you with a face-to-face, phone or Skype conversation:

“Thanks so much, I really needed to concentrate so I could finish the…”

“It’s probably surprising that calling during the evening rather than the work day means so much to me.”

  • Special recognition: Salute a professional colleague in a newsletter or other correspondence.
  • Give a small, but meaningful or humorous token of appreciation. For example, The EASY button from Staples, a Solar Dancing Flower, a light activated flower that swings and sways when in a window, or a candy bar wrapped in a ribbon.

When recognizing thoughtfulness, it’s the thought that counts!


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