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HANDLING INTERRUPTIONS – PART 2
Try the following to make maximum use of your time in meetings:
· Don't have a meeting in your office. Hold your meetings in a conference room or go to another office. That way you can leave the meeting whenever you want.
· Have an agenda for all formal meetings and stick to it. For informal meetings, jot down your key objectives in advance (i.e.. “Why do you need to see this person?”) and try to stick to them.
· Have a time limit for each meeting (preferably an hour or less), and stick to it. If you cover your priority items first and time runs out, the remaining items can usually be postponed to another meeting.
· Keep the number of participants in any meeting to a minimum and ensure that each person attending knows the agenda in advance and why they are attending.
Manage “Drop-in” Visitors
People who visit your office unexpectedly can consume an enormous amount of your time. To keep these visits to a minimum, try the following:
· Place a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door when you don't want to be interrupted.
· Stand up when someone enters your office, and meet them at the door. If you and your visitor remain standing, the meeting will likely be shorter. Alternatively, have no side chairs in your office (so there is no place for visitors to sit), or keep books and papers in your side chairs. If you want visitors to sit down, you can always get a chair or remove the books and papers.
· Many drop-in interruptions occur because people who report to you are unclear about their assignments. To avoid such interruptions, have a short (half-hour) meeting with your key staff at the beginning of each day to quickly review the day's activities. Resolve any questions at this time.
Use the “Two-Step Process” for Handling Paperwork
While you may have heard the saying “Handle each piece of paper only once,” it is often bad time-management advice. Why? Because you may end up handling low-priority paperwork while high-priority items wait. Instead, use the two-step process.
Step One: Scan all of your paperwork and note what must be done. Sort the work into three piles—high, medium, and low priority.
Step Two: Work on high-priority items first, then medium, and finally low. It is during Step Two that you should handle each piece of paper only once.
Another way to remain focused on the high-priority items is to remove other items from your desk. Place them in a file, drawer, or other container so you can't see them and, consequently, can't be tempted to work an item out of order.
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