Occasionally, a closed door can be a better use of time, according to Lee Schwartz, founder of the Schwartz Profitability Group.
1. Set expectations.
Whether it's e-mails or in-person visits, I know of executives who will not respond to personal e-mails until the weekend. Friends and family soon learn not to expect a reply until then.
Others reply to e-mail with an auto response, telling the sender when they can expect a response . . . not necessarily a reply. I -- and others -- have done this.
Instead of a complete open door policy, set specific hours when visits are allowed. Doing so removes the constant interruptions but maybe more importantly helps others in the company better determine what's really important. This practice also leads to people finding the answers on their own.
2. E-mails are definitely time robbers.
Using the available functionality within Outlook is helpful.
Block the pop-up bubble that alerts the recipient of the arrival of an incoming e-mail. Turn off the audible alarm.
Use the rules and wizards functionality to direct both incoming and outgoing e-mails into specific folders.
Client e-mails go into a folder named for the client. I know that one's important.
Periodicals, e-newsletters and the like go into a periodicals folder to be addressed when time permits.
3. Use your calendar . . . whether through Outlook or the good old-fashioned paper type . . . to block out more than just appointments.
If you need "think" time, purposely set that aside. If you need to read, catching up on important business periodicals, put that time on the calendar. If you've scheduled an appointment outside the facility, not only display the time for the meeting but also the travel time necessary to get to and from.
Even from a personal perspective, be thorough. If one's going to the gym, put that on the calendar. Be thorough when accounting for your time.