Use Your Tools - Shutting The Door On Interruptions
Yes. Uh huh. Really? Oh, that's nice... now... would you get the
heck out of my office!?
Do you have those days when everyone on the planet seems to
believe that you are here as their personal talking board?
Every 3 minutes someone's coming into your office - whether it's
a co-worker in the next cubicle, or your teenager who just got
home from school - you can't get a "work" in edgewise.
I had to have this conversation with my family, not too long
ago. They seemed to feel that since my office is in our house
I don't really "work" and so I'm still at their beck & call.
There was no question in the anyone's mind about walking into
my office and yakking my ear off - sometimes about stuff that I
simply did not care about at that particular second.
Now, granted, sometimes stuff is just important, and Mom (or
Dad) has to deal with it because they're the ones at home.
Move this concept to the corporate headquarters - if you're a
"boss" you get treated similarly by your "family" or team.
So you want to have an "open door" policy. That's great!
Doesn't mean your door has to physically be open, welcoming the
entire universe any time they darn well please.
It's time to "lay down the law". (and if you've tried the
law before, then upgrade it to a demand - gently of course).
Studies have shown that interruptions can cost as much as a 50%
drop in productivity! So that means... you have to work twice as
long & hard to get the job done! Who want's that???
Research by Franck Tétard at the Institute for Advanced
Management Systems Research in Finland shows that SOCIAL
interruptions, rather than work related ones, are the most
"interrupting", taking on average 1/3 more time to get back on
According to his studies - 26% of interruptions take 5 minutes
to deal with, and 47% of interruptions take a further 5 minutes
to get back on task from. So... if, then, 30ish% of total
interruption time is 10 minutes, and you're getting interrupted
a few times an hour... HOW MUCH WORK are you getting done?
So that "law" you need to make...
If my door is closed, please do not interrupt me unless it is
an absolute emergency. My closed door indicates that I'm focused
on an important project and I need to get it done.
If my door is open, and I appear to be concentrating, I would
appreciate if you would simply walk by and come back later. I'll
be happy to talk to you when I can give you my full attention.
If my door is open, and I don't appear to be in the middle of
something, please at least have the courtesy to ASK me if I'm in
the middle of something before you start rambling on about the
When you call me on the phone (or intercom), ask me if I have a
minute before you give me the long drawn out story of the girl
in shipping's cat who got stuck up a tree.
When you buzz me with the instant messenger - GET TO THE POINT
and don't keep buzzing me until I answer you... leave the
message and when I have a moment, I'll respond.
I would be very pleased to meet with you at a specific time so
that I can give you my full attention, and thus, REMEMBER what
you have to say. Why don't we set up a coffee meeting at 2pm?
... are those enough choices? You can adapt them as necessary.
The conversation I had with my family seemed to really do the
trick. In the past month or so my productivity has increased
dramatically, because I'm actually getting a few UNINTERRUPTED
HOURS in a row now! It's glorious. And I thank them very much
for respecting my need to have "work" time.
Do what you need to do and make a kind, honest, simple request.
You'll be pleased and productive afterward.
And well, if they still keep interrupting you... remind them
that groceries/kudo bars/video games/the-roof-over-their-head cost money and the more they interrupt you, the less you'll be able to buy, because you're not making any money!
About the Author: Kera is a small business internet coach, developer, designer and administrator. Offering complete business support from web management to book packaging to database design & deployment, her clients enjoy one-stop-service and continuity from Kera and her talented team of professionals. www.time4somethingelse.com