One way that we waste a lot of time at work is by unnecessary interruptions from coworkers. Far too many times we get interruptions while we are in the middle of doing our necessary work with things that really could have waited until a better time to discuss. Now as I am pointing my finger at my coworkers I have four fingers pointed back at myself, I am just as guilty, but today when it happened to me a “light bulb” went off in my head and I realized that we have to do something about these types of interruptions. Our office is in the middle of a big change as we are going to all digital medical records and even though we have been told by the software company that this will really save us time in the long run, everything is taking 2-3 times longer right now.
Getting back to the situation; one of my coworkers came into my office to tell me about an issue with a patient’s insurance and a mistake that had been made on our part and wanted me to stop, look at all of the information and make the changes which included a refund check to the patient right now (because the patient was in the office at the time). First of all, my head was still spinning from the issue I was working on (new ways of doing things can do that) and now I needed to shift gears to a new problem needed my immediate attention, or did it?
As I was able to pull myself away from what had my attention and was now trying to focus on what was being told to me, I realized that, no, this was not an emergency and it could wait until another time to be taken care of. I told my coworker to let the patient know that I would look into the situation and take care of it in the next couple of days. But then it was hard to get back to what I was originally working on, because I kept thinking about this other problem. I realized that a lot of productive time was wasted unnecessarily, and what could we do to prevent these things from happening in the future so that we all could be more productive? I came up with three things that I am going to try that will hopefully help us to overcome this issue and be more productive and still take care of all of the problems that come up during our week.
1. Make everyone aware of unnecessary interruptions, discussing what types of interruptions are urgent and what can wait.
2. Set aside a time either each day or a couple of times a week when we each can “make appointments” with each other to take care of issues that come up during our workweek.
3. Re-evaluate how we are doing in one month to see if how we are handling taking care of issues is working or if we need to do some “tweaking” to try things a little differently.
The last point is very important because if you set up “guidelines” to take care of issues you must evaluate if they are working and, if not, make changes, if everyone involved knows that there will be a “review” then they will be more willing to try the new method knowing that it is not set in stone.
Well, I have my work cut out for my weekly meeting and I will keep you posted as to how things work out with our plan.