In this video, Dave Crenshaw dispels the open door myth and explains how to establish and use a closed door and open calendar mindset. Give others access to your calendar to improve your focus and work.
- Many of us want to be productive, but we also want to be helpful, right? People around us have questions and we want to make ourself available to respond to those questions. Because of this many people have adopted what's called an open door policy. The idea is my door is always open and you can always come and ask me a question. The problem with this policy though is that it actually chops up our day. It destroys our focus in little pieces at a time. And it's less respectful to other people because often they'll end up having to wait outside of our door for a chance to talk with us and it creates a situation where we're multitasking, which really is counterproductive and not respectful.
So, the focused alternative to the open door policy is what I call closed door, open calendar. This allows you to stay focused on work when it's time to work, and be focused on people when it's time to listen to them. Here are a few steps that you can take to establish this closed door, open calendar policy. First, preestablish blocks of time in your schedule. These are spaces in your week where people can put them self into your schedule and you know that that is set aside just to focus on them.
Make sure you combine these blocks of time with the buffer space principle. Leave yourself plenty of time before and after to transition to these important conversations. Second, you'll want to provide people with access to your calendar. This is most often set up either online or through a company server. If it isn't set up in your place of work, you might want to talk to an IT professional. This is how other people can see what's available on your schedule and then add them self to it.
But if that isn't set up in your workplace, at the very least you can just use a piece of paper. Put it outside your door with blocks of time where people can schedule them self in. You can still use this principle even if you're not set up for calendar sharing. And then third, notify other people. Let them know what the schedule is and also let them know about this principle. You may want to even show them this video. The idea is that you want to focus on them and this is the system that you're going to use to establish it.
Once you've established this system, occasionally people are still going to interrupt you. So, how do you politely respond to them? How do you handle it in a way that doesn't make them feel like you're being rude? The most powerful tool that you can use is asking the question, "Can this wait?" In particular, "Can this wait until a time "scheduled on our calendar?" And then ask them to use the calendar. This might take a few times, but after a while they'll get in the habit of also using your open calendar.
This system is about mutual respect. It's about respect for people when they come and talk to you. You focus on them. And it's about respect for each other when it's time to work.
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- Avoid distractions in a digital world.
- Learn how to make time for others.
- Identify how to build a mental firewall to sustain focus.
- Define clear boundaries and expectations.
- Assess how and when you prioritize tasks.