Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Eliminate time wasting interruptions

To open up time in our day for the truly important things -- discussions, reading, and research that enable us to learn new concepts, coaching sessions with our direct reports that facilitate their development and commitment and improve our department's productivity, planning and communications that facilitate the smooth-running of our projects -- we have to eliminate time wasters.

Time wasters include: interruptions on issues that are not relevant to us or our organizations, time spent searching for documents or materials that are not where we first expected them, and time spent on activities that we think relax us but only add to our stress (such as reality television).

How do you handle people who pop into your office for a chat that neither builds your relationship (which is important as good team relationships facilitate work completion) nor supports your work?

Learn to triage all interruptions. After a brief welcome, help people get to their point by asking, "how can I help you today?" Based on their response, determine quickly if the discussion will be about something urgent or not urgent. If not urgent, you can politely say, "I'd love to talk with you about that. Let's meet for coffee, say around 2?" Put it on your calendar and send the chatter on his way. It's okay, you need to take a walk at 2 anyway.

You can preempt some of these interruptions by instituting "quiet time": post a notice on your door (or chair if you have no private space) that says, "quiet hours: M - F 10 - 11 and 2 - 3" (or whatever time might work for you).

Let people know you are available for emergencies, but for non-emergencies they should please stop by another time.

Any other solutions out there?

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