The Biz of Pacelinebiz

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“Drop In” Visitors At Work

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Today we will re-visit a topic I spoke briefly about in my October 26, 2009 post Managing Your Time  Better.

Drop in visitors are one of the 20 time wasters that Alec Mackenzie wrote about in his book The Time Trap.  Click on the link below to see a flow chart for how to deal with people who drop in your office for “just a minute” and then derail your productivity for much longer than a minute.

Flowchart for drop in visitors

If you are not good with  flow charts, you might prefer to see the 4 responses to drop in visitors in writing:

  • 1. Handle their question – if truly brief or a legitimate emergency.
  • 2. Schedule time to meet with them later.
  • 3. Refer them to another resource or person.
  • 4. Encourage them to develop their own solution (are you their crutch?)

Some tactics (dirty tricks?) to try to deal with the drop in visitor:

  • Stand up immediately as if you were walking out and go anywhere and led them out of your office. This will give you a natural opportunity to reschedule.  Then go back to your office as soon as it is “safe”.
  • Cut yourself short after a couple of minutes by saying “oh I just remembered I have to do…”  or  “I can see this is going to take a little more time than I can spare”  then reschedule when it works for you or suggest someone else to ask or for them to try to do it on their own.
  • Postpone and reschedule for a short time later at their office.  That way you are in more in control and can leave when your ready if it becomes too lengthy.  It is much easier leaving their office than trying to tactfully get someone out of your office.
  • Set a time limit at the very beginning and stick to it.
  • Help bring the discussion to a close by using a foreshadowing phrase such as “one more thing before we are done…”
  • If all else fails, hide.  Find an empty office or an out-of-the-way place in the office and work there.  This also helps to establish a planning time and takes care of the phone and E-mail as well.
  • Some of the suggestions don’t effectively deal with the problem but at least will minimize it.  The best approach is to plan your day with blocks of planning  time for your top priority work and schedule to respond to interruptions like Phone, E-mail and drop in visitors at times that are convenient for you throughout the day.

Have a good, productive week free of drop in visitors.


Written by pacelinebiz

February 15, 2010 at 5:52 pm

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