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Closed Door – Open Calendar And The Dreaded “Quick Question”

by Dave Crenshaw, author of “The Myth of Multitasking: How “Doing It All” Gets Nothing Done

office meeting

Small business owners are the absolute best at being approachable and attentive to their employees. But, oh how quickly things go awry when visitors treat your availability like a doormat.

Closed Door – Open Calendar:

As an entrepreneur, you want to be productive, but you also want to be helpful and a good manager. To accomplish this, many implement an open door policy. While it sounds like a nice idea, for practical purposes, the open door policy opens you up to all kinds of distractions.

Instead, I recommend you implement a closed dooropen calendar policy. This means people can schedule themselves into your calendar. This allows you to protect your window of opportunity to get more done. Then, when you do meet with employees, you can do it free from distraction, being able to focus on them one hundred percent. This will allow you to leave chaos—not your crew—out in the cold.

One tool to help you create the open calendar is to have a shared digital calendar where people can schedule themselves into time blocks. For the less tech-savvy, even a printout on your door can work. Just establish on open space in your calendar in advance where you don’t allow yourself to schedule any conflicts.

How to Kill the Dreaded “Quick Question”:

What about small interruptions? One of the most common time-ravaging traps is when a customer or employee pops into your office with a “quick question”…I call these the dreaded “double Q”. When this happens you frequently drop everything to response to small issues—and lose focus and valuable time. Quick questions can chew through a business owner’s day faster than a six-year-old can go through a bag of Halloween candy!

I use a system that will help you slow down the interruptions that are taking place in your day and help your business conquer chaos. Must. Resist. Urge. To. Answer.

You can slow down the rate of “quick questions” by heading them off with a few of your own.

1. “Can this wait until our one-to-one meeting?” –  This means that you need to have pre-scheduled one-to-one meetings set up with a consistent time and place where you both meet together and bring these quick questions. By asking this question, you’re making people think first before they interrupt you: Can it wait?

2. “Can this be better handled in an email?” –  Naturally, some questions require a dialog, so this back and forth conversation doesn’t work as well in an email. But, if it’s truly a quick question that requires no or very little dialog, an email is much better than walking into someone’s office, interrupting them and potentially starting an unnecessary conversation.

3. “Can we schedule a one-to-one meeting to talk about it?” –  Maybe the quick question isn’t that quick – it’s about something more complex. This is much better handled out of the normal flow of work where you have a focused meeting just to discuss that item. This allows you both to come prepared and to use the time more wisely.

If the answer to each of the three previous questions is “No,” then make yourself available and deal with the question at that time.

Yes, occasionally real interruptions and emergencies happen, but by asking the other three questions first you are going to dramatically reduce the number of interruptions that are taking place in your day.

By using these simple tactics to reduce just some of the interruptions causing chaos in your day, you can focus your precious time on the most valuable aspects of your business.

 

Dave Crenshaw

As an author, speaker, and business coach, Dave Crenshaw has transformed thousands of businesses worldwide. He is a master of helping business owners triumph over chaos. His first book,”The Myth of Multitasking: How “Doing It All” Gets Nothing Done“, has been published in six languages and is a time management bestseller. To get free access to Dave’s online Time Management Fundamentals course on Lynda.com, please visit: http://davecrenshaw.com/freetime

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