Join Dave Crenshaw for an in-depth discussion in this video Implement a closed door, open calendar policy, part of Time Management Tips Weekly.
- Are you or someone that you work with using the open door policy? The idea behind this is to make yourself available at any time to anyone who has any question. You want to show that you value other people, and that your time is not more important than theirs. Unfortunately, the open door policy has the opposite effect. It actually devalues your time, and the time of others, and it creates more interruptions for everyone, especially if you get a backup of many people waiting to ask you a question.
So, what do we do instead? How do we validate other people, make them feel important, but maintain productivity? I would suggest that we use a closed door, open calendar policy instead. This is the idea that anyone can schedule themselves into an available time slot to talk with you and then during that time, you're 100% focused on them. So, how do we set this up to make it work? First of all, create a pattern, create a schedule of when you're going to be available on your calendar.
Each workplace has its own unique rhythm, and often there are times of the day when most people have the most amount of questions. That's usually a good time to create the open calendar space. If you create a rhythm, then other people can get used to the idea of scheduling themselves into an available time slot at a particular time. Number two is, after you've established that rhythm, then share your calendar. The easiest way to do that is through digital means, such as Outlook or Google Calendar, where you can share your calendar with your co-workers.
However, you can even get low-tech with this. Just having a piece of paper outside of your office that shows your available time slots gives people the opportunity to schedule themselves in, as long as that paper doesn't conflict with your actual calendar. Number three is, after we've established that calendar, to update everyone's expectations. They've been in the habit of interrupting you and you interrupting them at pretty much any time. We want to transition to the idea that, hey, now we're going to focus on each other when we talk, and we're going to do this through the calendar.
It may take a few reminders, but once you talk about it and establish it consistently, they'll get used to the idea. Which leads to number four, keep your appointments. If someone schedules themself into your calendar, they've told you that they want to meet with you at that time, and by making that calendar available to them, you've made a commitment to them, so keep it. If you keep it consistently, you'll build trust. If you don't keep it consistently, then they'll go back to interrupting you whenever they can or want to.
And, finally, step five is when you have that appointment, focus on them. Give them 100% of your attention. Let them know that you have nothing more important to do than to meet with them during that time. This, again, will build more trust and validate that they are important to you, which is really the whole point of why people started the open door policy in the first place. Be consistent with this, and people will feel respected, and all of you will be able to focus more, and have more time.
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- Reducing interruptions
- Dealing with feeling overwhelmed
- Responding to quick questions
- Making the most of meetings
- Following up
- Implementing a closed door, open calendar policy