Chapter 15. Controlling Interruptions
The key is in not spending time,
but in investing it. ― Stephen R. Covey
Unexpected interruptions are one of the biggest time-wasters
These interruptions can come in the form of a chime
for new mail from your computer,
ringing of phone calls and texts,
or people walking into your office
for something to talk about.
In fact, people are the most time-wasting element in work.
Up to 50% of time at work
is spent chatting with colleagues.
Many people come to the office in the morning
to start gossiping and continue
for two or three hours.
In many agencies,
people only really get to work at 11 a.m.,
right before their lunch break.
they continue to gossip with colleagues
until 1:30 or 2 pm before returning to work.
Make the most of your time at work
The rule you need to remember
is “make the most of your time at work.”
When you get to the office,
get to work immediately.
Do not gossip with others,
read newspapers or surf the web.
Since you’ve planned your workday the night before,
start right away on the most important things
and keep working on them one by one
until the most important ones are completed.
When someone calls you,
get straight to the point.
Say something like,
“Hi Bill. Nice to talk to you.
What can I do to help you?”
Let’s get straight to the point.
Do not waste time.
Before you call Bill,
make a quick outline of the points you want to talk about.
When you get on to Bill, say,
“I know you’re very busy.
I have three points to discuss with you
and then I’ll let you get back to work.”
This approach is both polite and professional.
Most busy entrepreneurs will appreciate
you getting to the point quickly
and ending the call.
When someone comes into your office to talk,
you can say,
“I’d love to talk to you now,
but I really have to work.
I need to finish this by this afternoon.”
Whenever you say magic words like
“I have to work”,
they will stop and leave.
Get up immediately
To minimize the time for unexpected interruptions,
when someone walks into your room, stand up
and approach them and say,
“I’m going out. What can I do for you?”
Then you walk the person out of the office
and into the hallway,
talking and listening.
When the other person is done,
you let him get back to his work,
and you go back to the office with yours.
Another technique is to lead guests
from the outside into a separate meeting room
instead of bringing them into your room.
Then politely set a time limit at the beginning of the discussion
with reasons such as:
“I have an important call from my representative in London
at exactly 3:15.
I can’t miss that appointment.
I’m sure we can discuss things before that.”
In his book The Effective Executive,
Peter Drucker emphasized
that not only are people wasting your time,
you are also wasting others’ time.
He suggested that people boldly ask others,
“Am I doing anything that is wasting your time?”
When you encourage people to be completely honest
with you on this question,
you’ll be surprised at the ideas you hear
that improve the effectiveness of both sides.
The two most powerful warriors are patience and time. ― Leo Tolstoy