by Jonathan Vatner | May 01, 2005

IllustrationIt’s no secret that chatty, intrusive co-workers can spoil otherwise productive time at the office. How to handle them effectively? Following are some tips from Sue Morem, a business consultant and author of How to Gain the Professional Edge (

Remove temptation. If co-workers tend to stop in and chat at length, make your workspace less inviting by removing extra chairs and putting away that candy dish.

Hold all messages. When you’re on deadline, turn off the phone ringer and stop checking e-mail. Leave a voice mail greeting and an e-mail response saying you are unavailable and noting when messages will be returned.

Hang a sign. If office interruptions persist, consider putting a “do not disturb” sign on your door or cubicle entrance.

Get up and go. If a visitor overstays his welcome, excuse yourself from your own office, perhaps under the guise of checking for a fax. When all else fails, find another place to do your work. “In that kind of a situation, you’re better off removing yourself and getting the project done,” says Morem.