Have you ever been deep in thought while staring into a spreadsheet of fascinating data and carefully crafting a plan of attack for the next month, quarter, year—and someone walks into your office/cube/space and starts talking at you. Not to you—at you, because this is how it feels to the person you just steamrolled during her creative thought process. We’re all guilty of it.
And if you're an inbound marketer—you're used to multi-tasking. So you're particularly inclined to "bug" your coworkers because you want an answer in 140 characters or less, ASAP. So, how do we begin to stop ambushing our coworkers? By being cognizant of how disruptive constant interruptions can be among your team.
Whether you’re creative or not, an introvert or extrovert, everyone needs alone time to think. Collaborative thinking is an integral part of the overall office dynamic when it comes strategic planning, including an open door policy. But how do you get time with the team members who are helping you execute your strategies or your boss to get a sign-off on a new campaign when everyone seems so busy?
1. Utilize non-disruptive communication tools. We can all agree that no one wants to add to their Inbox—or find someone standing at your desk mid-thought—so one tool that works well is using the chat feature on Skype for quick interoffice conversations. There are several different settings for alerts and availability so you can set yours to your tolerance. You can even attach files, making it a convenient alternative to calling, emailing or dropping by. Just make sure if you use this approach that everyone is tuning in.
2. Schedule a meeting if you need more than 5 minutes of time. But make sure to ask first. Here are a few examples:
3. Have a working lunch. Everyone has to eat. So why not share your ideas over lunch outside of the office? In our experience, a change in environment almost always inspires new ideas. Or order in and sit in the conference room or outside at a picnic table, rather than the breakroom.
4. Schedule a regular time to chat. Even if it’s just 15 minutes once per week over coffee, you’ll have the time reserved to talk without worrying about finding a spot in your team members’ schedules.
5. Leave a handwritten note. The wonderful thing about sticky notes is they stick to pretty much anything. Leave your personalized note on their monitor, mouse or chair to get your request in the forefront. Adding smiley faces helps =)
6. Use all of the bells and whistles of your project management platform. Project management software like Basecamp makes it easy to share updates, add To Do’s, or mark something complete without bombarding your team. It’s also a great tool for reviewing and approval because you can select only those specific team members who need to know about that action, therefore, not bugging the entire team every time you need something.
7. If all else fails, buy some time with bribes. Earn extra priority points by leaving candy, or even better—Starbucks—on your co-worker’s desk. You can write your request right on the cup.
Whether it’s by Skype, Morse code or paper airplane, giving that small courtesy of advanced notice with minimal interruptions will go a long way with your teammates—and improve your productivity. Do you have any ideas to add? Please share them with us in the comments!