TIME management strategies naturally help you plan ahead. But you need skills to manage unexpected interruptions too or your effectiveness will crumble.

Picture it: You are racing to meet a deadline or you are churning out work and creative ideas, when suddenly, someone pops into your office.

How do you feel when this distraction competes for your attention?

You must decide what to do right away. This is a completely different skill set from prioritising in advance. And how you respond can make you feel either empowered or depleted.

So now is your time to plan for unplanned interruptions.

Use these guidelines to maintain effectiveness in a world where interruptions are the norm.

Manage interruptions

You can completely re-strategise how you handle interruptions. Then, you will both accomplish more and enjoy a boost in morale.

The secret? Create proactive patterns.

As you redirect distracting traffic to scheduled appointments, you protect your focus and promote your plans.

Here are three tips to keep you focused, effective and flexible:

1. Discover ways you actually invite interruptions

With friendly objectivity, document each way you inadvertently reward people for interrupting you.

For example, do you keep your door open? Look up when people enter? Even smile?

The more you explore, the more expert you will become at detecting subtle ways you reinforce unscheduled outreaches.

Validate yourself for each insight. This is a powerful way to start reclaiming your time because only your choices fall entirely within your range of control.

2. Redirect interruptions with a schedule book

Follow these three simple steps to exercise more control over the unexpected:

* What time of day are you most productive? Reserve that time strictly for activities you have prioritised in advance.

* Next, designate a different part of the day for responding to requests. Let’s say you generally need 30 minutes to attend to these matters.

Scheduling your consultation time for a half hour before lunch or for a half hour before you leave work provides you with a well-defined endpoint. (This is when you will talk with anyone who has a last-minute request or question.)

* Begin to keep your appointment book open. As soon as someone initiates contact, reach for your book and schedule him in for your consultation time. He knows his questions will be answered, and you can return to your work more quickly.

For additional reinforcement, indicate on your voice mail that you will answer your calls at a specified time of day.

3. Proactively reduce interruptions by anticipating needs

Which interruptions can you anticipate?

Rather than give others the power to drop in unannounced, seize the initiative. Contact them when it works for you and set up the optimal time to talk.

Developing this habit strengthens your capacity to coordinate a constructive energy flow for yourself. Possibly this will even benefit your co-workers too.

See this as a time of investigation and experimentation. Expect fresh options to unfold. Encourage yourself by welcoming all the consequences as valuable lessons.

By developing initiatives, you feel good about handling the unexpected interruptions and you experience a new level of control over your daily destiny.