“Have you got a minute?” Answering “yes” immediately is the worst of the answers. It is not an interruption of one minute: it is a lost productivity.

That minute destroys completely our focus on the current problem. That minute is not really a minute, because it turns into countless minutes in order to recover the attention, the thread and rhythm. That minute changes completely our productivity, because the original projection is lost and the ideas are no longer fresh and are transformed, changing the result.

When someone interrupts us, our attention diverted and transferred to his problem. Often, while we attend his problem, our anxiety grows because we don’t disconnect from the task we have interrupted. Often, that minute can be transformed into a long time. Often, we attend immediately this recent task, destroying our planning, our forecasts and our priorities, with the stress that it causes.

Then, when we resume the interrupted task, where we were? What things we planned to do? How to? What details are lost? Let calculate the time we have invested attending that “minute”. How many minutes did you spent attending that “minute”? How many minutes will you spend resuming the interrupted task?

When someone asks me “do you have a minute?” I reply, “Can you wait a minute (while I finish this task)?”. He/she already know that is interrupting me, and for this reason he/she must respect my time and my work. If I attend him/her immediately, the perception is that my work and my time are not important and I’m always available. If I will dedicate him/her one “minute” of my time, he/she has to understand that I am engaged in important tasks, and the waiting for “one minute” is a small price in exchange for my attention and my help.

It’s a simple and diplomatic formula that also must be important for us when we need “a minute” of someone.



And you, have you got a minute? Can you wait a minute?



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