Open Door Policy – The Fastest Way To Get Nothing Done

Ever get to the end of a day and not actually achieved much?

It’s not the best feeling in the world, is it?

Having worked hard for 6, 8, 10 hours or more and not have much to show for it.

Chances are your plans were derailed by all the other ‘stuff’ around us.  And more than a few interruptions (well-intentioned though they may be) by the people you work with, collaborate with, Clients and Customers, Suppliers, Family members, the list goes on.

The open door policy

First of all, the ‘open door’ policy doesn’t just refer to the physical door to your office always being open, where anyone can walk in at any time, to talk to you about anything they want, and you’ll be instantly accessible, stop what you were doing, listen intently, and engage in conversation for as long as required.

It has a wider definition of being accessible to others, by all means – email, text, phone, as well as in person for drop-ins – at all times.

And with an explosion in the amount of communication & collaboration tools available today, we are now accessible in so many more ways, 24/7, 365 days a year, & boy does it feel like that sometimes!

But the impact of not protecting our time is:

We simply get less done than planned

interruptions break our concentration levels, and it takes us a while to reach the same level of productivity as before

At some point, we’ll start to become frustrated because we’re not making the progress we wanted to

Some of this frustration may well come from some of the problems people are getting in touch about, and the Time it then  takes to resolve these – more lost Time.

Why do we do it then?

There will be a whole host of reasons, many personal to each of us, but some of the more common reasons are we don’t want to feel like we’re letting someone down by not being there, to help when that person needed us.  Yet, the majority of situations never require an urgent, immediate response.

Culturally it was the right thing to do – once upon a time.

Maybe we fear losing control if we are not involved in everything that’s going on around us?

Or perhaps it’s because we want to feel needed, to be the ‘go-to person’ everyone looks towards for help & support?

But who loses out?

We do!

We don’t get done what we planned to do.

We don’t get to spend the quality Time with those who would benefit most.

We don’t get to develop the business systems and processes that will ultimately enable us to better serve our Team & Customers.

We don’t get to spend as much Time with our Family & Friends as we’d like.

And we end up working even longer hours to catch up.

So what has been the cost to you so far through being regularly interrupted?

Think about it for the moment, what have you not got done, not started or not finished yet?

What has not happened as a result of this?

What would have been the benefit to you, your business, your Team & Customers if you had managed to complete these things & implement any changes?

There is always a cost to be incurred for allowing these interruptions, the question is … Can you afford it?

What to do instead

Shut the door, to begin with!

Don’t answer the phone every Time it rings.

Switch off the email notifications, sounds & popups so you are blissfully unaware of the email stacking up.

And then try this…

Plan for certain Times in the day to be available, and let the people who need to know, know.  Maybe alter your voicemail on a daily basis informing callers of the best Time to call back.

Agree with your Team what constitutes an emergency, and what can wait.  Very often they’ll resolve the matter themselves anyway if you’re not available.

If you must, agree with a few Key people they have permission to interrupt you, but again ask that they consider very carefully before doing so.  Very often by simply having this conversation, they’ll leave you alone and respect your Time.

And schedule more quick meetings & calls where required.  If two people know they are due to speak/meet at 4:00 pm, chances are it’ll happen.

I schedule a lot of my calls this way.  A quick text to someone I’d like to speak with offering the Times today I’m available, & asking them to let me know which one is best for them?  Then it gets scheduled in the diary.

So go on – shut the door!

You’ll find it a more relaxed way to work too.