There are three little words that kill productivity, especially if you work in a traditional office. These words cause endless interruptions, distract you from your work, and can often throw your entire day into disarray. And it all starts when a coworker arrives at your desk and says, "Got a minute?"
"When someone calls or drops by and says, 'Got a minute?' it seems so reasonable," says Ed Brown, author of upcoming book, The Time Bandit Solution: Recovering Stolen Time You Never Knew You Had. "But once your train of thought has been disrupted, it's very hard to get that momentum back. Often, you have to start a task over from the beginning, which is a big waste of time and causes even more stress." Brown also notes that it's often the bosses who are the "worst offenders," because employees simply feel they can't say 'no'.
Brown recommends getting your coworkers together to agree on Time Locks -- specific blocks of time (for example, 2pm to 4pm), in which employees can focus on meaningful work. This might take some negotiating, but once everyone realizes the benefits, it's likely they'll all be on board for some interruption-free time.
And, don't be so worried about approaching your boss about these Time Locks. "The key is to emphasize that, if you can focus exclusively on your work during certain hours of the day, you'll be more productive, and it will help him meet his own deadlines. Time Locks are really to the benefit of managers, because bosses pay for the interruptions they cause, whether they realize it or not," Brown says.