If you have coworkers, then you have coworkers who disrupt you.
Whether they love to talk about sports, their relationships, or television shows — or if they actually have a bona fide work-related question — it’s only a matter of time before one of your colleagues stops by your desk to chat when you’re in the middle of something.
This is perhaps doubly true for those working in open-office environments, where coworkers can simply come up to you and strike up a conversation whenever it tickles their fancy.
Unfortunately, even if you’re the friendliest person in the world, these kinds of disruptions can have a tremendously adverse effect on productivity.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at six ways you can manage such interactions swiftly, ensuring you remain on good terms with your coworkers while continuing to produce up to your standards.
1. Budget time for disruptions
Since you know that, sooner or later, at least one of your coworkers is going to interrupt you when you’re in the middle of something, set some time aside specifically for that purpose.
In other words, don’t wait until you’re super close to deadline to get started on an assignment.
The earlier your start and finish projects, the more time you’ll have to gab with your coworkers — even if you don’t want to.
2. Listen to music
A super easy way to discourage colleagues from stopping by your desk to talk to you: stick headphones in your ears whenever you’re busy, and play songs that make work easier.
As an added bonus, you’ll be able to identify which coworkers think you can hear what they have to say even when you’re listening to music.
3. Go for a walk
Exercise makes us more productive at work. Yes, that exercise can include something as easy as a 15-minute walk.
If your coworker has something they “absolutely need to tell you right this second,” ask whether that person would like to join you on a walk. That way, when you return to your desk, you’ll be re-energized and ready to dive right back into work.
4. Change your presence status
There’s a reason you have the ability to change your presence status on your team messaging app.
While someone stopping by your desk when you’re busy can certainly be annoying, you can never take digital disruptions with a grain of salt either.
A simple solution: change your presence status to indicate that you’re busy when you are, and you should see digital disruptions subside.
5. Work from somewhere else
If you’ve got a huge project due in a few days and you’re struggling to make progress at the office, ask your boss whether you can work from home or the library.
Make it physically impossible for your coworkers to physically interrupt you, and they won’t.
6. Don’t disrupt your coworkers
Never forget the golden rule. If you don’t want your coworkers to disrupt you, don’t disrupt them. Hopefully, they’ll notice your behavior and strive to mimic it.
Interacting with your coworkers is implicitly part of your job description. Though their unprovoked disruptions might bother you, it’s just part of the game. By managing such disruptions, however, you’re likely to maintain strong relationships with your colleagues without having to worry about taking work home or missing deadlines. It’s a win-win for everyone.