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21 Sep

Sometimes a closed door is just a closed door

Date: 2011-09-21 12:00 Comments: 0 st

Do you have an “open door”-policy at your office?

What I mean to say is; does your company culture encompass the reasoning that “in this workplace we never close the door since this is a place in which we are always available for each other”?

I frequently meet people who identify “colleagues who drop by and interrupts” as one of the primary “time-thieves” in their workday. These people tend not to work in an open-plan office, but have their own offices. They say “I can’t just close the door; that would be rude to my co-workers.”

Listen to the man with the divan

But, just as Freud supposedly said “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar”, I sometimes say “sometimes a closed door is just a closed door”.

If you are faced with a door firmly shut, it need not mean that the colleague who closed it doesn’t wish to help you. It probably just signals that now is not a good time. There is most likely hard work being done on a task which has a high priority right now on the other side of the door. Since, he who says no to one thing, says yes to another.

To prioritize is to say no

You are saying yes to what you feel is the right task to work on right now. You are not saying no to be ungenerous or mean towards your colleagues, but because you are making a conscious prioritization. You are the person ultimately responsible for that the right thing is done at the right time within your area of responsibility. Fortunately, you are also the only one who can make the right priorities, since you are the only person possessing a complete overview of your situation.

So, you are not saying no due to a lack of interest in helping your colleagues, but because you are making a conscious assessment of what is reasonable to work with simultaneously and still remain concentrated.

This may appear to be a trivial tip, but considering what I hear in my daily work with people, it needs repeating to remind you to:

Close the door.

Do this

  1. When you need to, close the door.
  2. Work without interruptions with what you really need to do right now and with what require concentration. Enjoy the silence.
  3. When you no longer need to work without being disturbed, open the door.
  4. If you feel uncertain of your colleagues’ reactions, explain to them in the next staff-meeting why you need to close the door from time to time. It is because you need to work undisturbed with a task that requires your concentration since that particular task has the highest priority at the moment. You are still the same old helpful co-worker, who is glad to be of assistance later, once you have first had your time to concentrate fully.

What if your colleagues fully understand your need to sit secluded and be left alone at times? Perhaps they even feel the same way. Quite frankly, I think we all do from time to time.

What about introducing a “closed door so that you can work alone”-hour between 9am and 10am every day?

Fewer distractions and get more done

If you allow yourself to close the door to get time alone when you need to, you get more done since you can work with higher intensity for a while without being distracted or interrupted.
Bonus-effect: Just imagine how much happier you would be to see your colleagues when your alone-time is finished and you have been allowed to complete the most urgent tasks!

What is your way?

What is your best trick to be able to work focused and fully concentrated? As we all know, seclusion by itself doesn’t guarantee that we can focus. Let me and others know how you handle this by leaving a comment.

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