You are having a productive day and plowing through your to-do list. You’ve blocked off time to start a special project and are on pace to finish well ahead of schedule. Suddenly, you are confronted with those three little words that can destroy your day: “Got a minute?”
Most offices have the person that I describe as ”Got a Minute Gary”. This is the individual that is always approaching you when you’re in the middle of completing an important project and asking, “Hey Eric, you got a minute?” I’ve discovered that they never take only a minute. On a good day, they waste at least 20 minutes of your time. Gary’s sole mission in life is to make you late.
As you keep reading, you will learn two strategies to effectively deal with “Got a Minute Gary”. If you happen to be the Gary of your office, I hope this message inspires you to change your ways!
It’s important to know the value of your time. Knowing this will motivate you to protect it against unscheduled interruptions. The calculation is simple. Take your desired annual income and divide by the number of weeks you work factoring in scheduled vacations. So if your desired income is $110,000 and you work 49 weeks (factoring in 3 vacation weeks), divide dollars weeks and you get $2,244.89. Next, take the $2,244.89 and divide by the hours you work per week. Be sure to subtract lunch time. If you work 50 hours per week and take an hour for lunch each day, you would divide by 45 hours and get $50. In this calculation, your time is worth $50 per hour.
For many of the people that I work with, their time is worth $100 per hour and up. If you fall into this category and Gary takes up a half an hour of your time, he is literally costing you $50 each time he interrupts you. Every time he shows up at your desk, picture yourself giving him a $50 dollar bill.
When working on a project, let everyone know up front the times of day that you will not be available. This can be accomplished by putting a sign out notification on your email that lets people know the specific blocks of time that you will be out of the loop. Whenever someone emails you they will see the message.
My favorite approach is the direct one. When Gary asks you if you have a minute, tell him what you are working on, and offer to schedule an appointment time with him to discuss what he wants to talk about. Have your calendar ready BEFORE he approaches you.
You tell him what times work best for you instead of asking him when he is available. Make sure you communicate when the meeting will start AND when it will end. Short time windows inspire people to get to the point.
The appointment will send the message that your time is too valuable to be wasted and will make Gary think twice before interrupting you again. By calculating the value of your time and communicating your availability, you can avoid those three deadly words for good!
Eric M. Twiggs
Your Procrastination Prevention Partner
To access additional time management strategies download my latest ebook, One Moment in Time.