QuickTip: The Mostly-Closed Door

The Issue – Drive-By Distractions

One of the greatest distractions in the workplace occurs when people pass by our office. We often catch their eye and they come in or they just come in one their own accord. Either way we’re the victim of a drive-by distraction.

One option is to close the door.  However, this presents two new problems. First, so-called “open door” policies frown on this practice under the guise of openess and availability (i.e., productivity be damned). Second, there is an inherent human curiosity that compels people to knock on a closed door just to see if the office is actually empty!

The Solution – The Mostly-Closed Door 

The best way to avert drive-by distractions is to close your door…most of the way.  Viewed as a gateway, the office door can be used to communicate our availability:

  • The Open Door: When the door is flung wide open, we’re saying, “Come on in!”
  • The Mostly-Closed Door: When the door is mostly closed, we’re saying “I’m working here, so interrupt only if you really need me.” Note, too, that they can see us actually working in our office, something the closed door doesn’t communicate.
  • The Closed Door: As people get used to the Mostly-Closed Door, we can refashion their understanding of the Closed Door. It now says, “Don’t even think about it!

Using Our Available Tools

Even something as simple and available as our office door can greatly reduce the interruptions and distractions we suffer throughout the day. Each small increment of time regained aggregates into a lot more productivity and greater sense of command over our workload.

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