Just a quick question

Photo courtesy of Wee Sen Goh (Creative Commons)

Photo courtesy of Wee Sen Goh (Creative Commons)

Can I just ask a quick question?

It seems simple enough, but usually that quick question is more involved than either party expects.

Plus it is an interruption to a train of thought that derails me from what I was doing.

How many times have you stopped to answer that “quick question” and then sat there totally lost as to what you were doing before?

I’m struggling with too many moving parts at my job right now, and feel like I’m treading water most days with only my nose stuck out of the water. One thing I have discovered is that any time I get up from my desk, I take a pen and pad of paper because no matter where I am going, someone will catch me along the way to ask or tell me something, or I will notice something that I need to take care of. Forget me remembering it if I haven’t written it down (and actually, I still may not deal with it right away, but at least it’s captured).

I am learning that I need to have that pen and paper handy even when I’m at my desk to avoid the problem of losing my thought process when someone asks that quick question. I can jot down what I was working on, or where I stopped, and then have a better chance of picking that project or idea back up and running with it.

I know that people mean well when they interrupt with that “quick question” but it does make me think twice when I step to another office to do the same thing. My priority may not be their priority, and sometimes email or waiting can be better for things that need an answer but not this minute.

How can you be more effective in getting the information you need without interrupting others?