Depending upon the position one occupies in a workplace there will always be people wanting to meet you for quicker disposal of work, for paying homage or for seeking clarification. At work, it is desirable to have some fixed time or hours for visitors. There will always be unscheduled and unexpected visitors who drop in beyond the scheduled timing. If you are a boss, it is best to notify some guidelines about what matters and for whom you will be willing to interrupt your work for and whom you will meet later on.
Before seeing an unexpected visitor, get information regarding how much time the visitor will need. Do not hesitate to ask the time frame, for an unscheduled but an important meeting, so that you can it in your other schedule. There was no way I could say no to any demand on my time. I would calculate how much time a visitor wood need. Most of them would ask for five or ten minutes. I would set apart one hour for meeting visitors close to my chambers, which included five small meeting rooms. The visitors would normally arrive a few minutes earlier for the appointment. They would be served tea, coffee or cold drinks. I would walk into the meeting room and put on my stop watch and tell a visitor that his time started then. Exactly at the end of the time requested I would get up to leave. If the visitor said that he had no finished what he wanted to, I would give him a minutes more to listen to him. This would be apart from the written brief of request the visitors were requested to bring with them. I would ensure that if I had promised that the visitor would have some reply sent to his communication in seven days, he would have a reply personally signed by me. I avoided unscheduled interruptions. In some cases, I would delegate the tasks to be done but kept a tab on them so that my own credibility was not affected. Instead of asking the visitor to go out the end of interview, I would myself walk out of the room. This did not hurt the ego of the visitors as they were never asked to go away. Instead, I would get up and shake hands pleading that I had to see the next visitor. If at all I had to see somebody in my office room which was rare, then I would receive them at my office door and great them. This would give me control over the length of the time I wanted to spend with them as they would already have been softened by my politeness. If some problem came to my notice, I would decide to handle it right there and then. Only if I could not completely handle it, would I plan to take care of it a later time, but definitely, within the self-imposed time frame. In government offices in Indi, senior executives let the visitors know that they are busy and are not to be disturbed by placing a red light, at the top of their door which is a kind of ‘Do not disturb’ sign. Everybody has his or her reasons to busy. He or she need not be afraid to say ‘NO’ to people to protect his or her work time. One does not have to be apologetic or need an excuse to be too busy. When interruptions occur, use a system like a bookmark to remind you where you left. Have a definite system of jogging your memory so that it will be easier to pick up where you left off.
If you are right-handed, put your phone on the left side of the desk so that you can hold the phone to your ear and take notes at the same time, if required. It is not necessary to answer the phone every time it rings, if you are busy with other urgent work or cannot take the call for some reason. Have a system where all such calls automatically go into the answering machine or into voice mail box. This is also one way to avoid interruptions. The message on your answering machine should be clear and to be the point.
Let people know through your answering machine when you will return their calls. This will also enable you to filter your calls so that you can avoid unnecessary high pitched sales calls, irritating or crank calls. This is also a way to save time. My own method is to let every call go into the answering machine even if I am sitting next to the telephone. Only after the caller has identified himself and stated his purpose I respond if I feel that I should. I use the voice mail as a time saving tool. Alternatively, you can tell people through the answering machine or the voice mail exactly what you need to know or how they should contact you and the best time to reach you. When leaving messages, ask the person who has received the call to repeat your message back to you to make sure he has go it right. If you are going to be out for a long time or the subject is dealt by somebody else you can also ask if some other person can help the caller. Give the name and contact number of the other person with his prior consent who can help the caller quickly. Respect your own time as well as other people’s time. Collect all the information you need to take care of a request before returning any phone call.