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WWW (Wouldn't Work Without): Agendas

On average, you get interrupted HOW many times per day? Here is one way to MAXimize your interruptions, getting more done while you're at work.
Written Jul 24, 2012, read 3310 times since then.


It was "informal research," but here's what I learned:

I asked 22 people if they slept with their SmartPhone within arms-reach. 13 of them said, "Yes." (Then, they told me why...there were some really good reasons.")

Of the 13 that DID, I asked a follow up question, "Do you remember, anytime in the last week or so, getting a message [text message, phone call, or email] sometime during the time you were sleeping?"

Again, the answer was an overwhelming yes; and, again, the reasons why. When we talked about it further, we realized that a reason (of the many I heard) sounded something like this:

"The person who emailed me knew I was sleeping, but they wanted to get the thing they were thinking about in to my world as soon as possible." Has this ever happened to you?

When was the last time you thought of something to tell someone...but, they were not "right there?" You know, you're at home, and you think of something to tell someone at work. Or, you're out at a movie, and you think of something to tell a work colleague. Well, what do you do?
Call them? IM them? Write an Email? Send a text message?
"Just do it," that now-famous Nike slogan, actually creates more interruptions than most people can handle. What if, instead of sending "a message at a time," you saved them up. Then, at a predetermined time, you interrupt (what I call "meet") someone and go through your collected list of items to discuss?
Here's an experiment: For a few days, "bunch and discuss."
Here's the idea: Since there is a constant stream of thoughts you have that come in at all kinds of random times. In traffic. At dinner. While you're in line at the coffee shop... and, during these thoughts you no doubt think of someone you need to talk to - in life, or at work.
So, get a note card or dedicate a page in your notebook to a single person you talk to A LOT during each week. To start, you could implement this at work. Simply save a page in your notebook for each person:

  • Your boss
  • A couple of co workers
  • A direct report, intern or new hire

And, you can decide if you'd like to do this for your life as well. A page for your coach, your financial advisor, your spouse, your kids...
Then, when you think of something to tell one of those folks, simply turn to the page and write it down. See if you can rite down a few things during the day to see what it would be like if you "bunch and discuss." I have found this to be a great way to save time and bring them the information you need, as you need it.
I think it makes more or most sense to interrupt someone one time with 3 or 5 things to discuss, more than 3 or 5 times with one thing to talk about at a time.

Personally, I wouldn't work without agendas. Give it a try just for 5 days, and see what you come up with!

Learn more about the author, Jason Womack.

Comment on this article

  • Biznik Director of Community 
Seattle, Washington 
Matt Lawrence
    Posted by Matt Lawrence, Seattle, Washington | Jul 25, 2012

    Email is a bastion of "things I need to discuss" with someone, at some point, down the road.

    But usually it is with Biznik CEO, Lara Feltin.

    Lara and I do just what you propose in your article and put all our "Discuss with [teammate]" in a folder and once a week, we go through it.

    It is the absolute best way to work as a team.

    As you can imagine, there are tons of things we need to work on together in a day, but keeping all the little stuff in one place keeps the overwhelm (and insanity) at bay.

    The rub is this: When I talk to friends and peers about keeping folders, their eyes glaze over - they insist they would never use them as intended.

    What then Jason?

    What can I say to inspire them to make help themselves?

  • Author. Entreprenuer. 
Ojai, California 
Jason Womack
    Posted by Jason Womack, Ojai, California | Jul 25, 2012

    Practice on the small things; it's a mantra of mine.

    I think, Matt, that your friends may be thinking it's an "all-or-nothing." Or, what I see as a "in-box zero OR in-box at 40,000+ emails" decision that must be made.

    Start with something like this: a Sticky Note or a 3X5 note card, even a WORD document saved to your desktop. There, in that "bucket" keep writing things you need to/want to tell someone "next time you have time."

    Try it, with just one person, and see if it's worth it.

  • Sales Process Consultant 
Bensalem, Pennsylvania 
Howard Dion
    Posted by Howard Dion, Bensalem, Pennsylvania | Aug 01, 2012

    I really like this article. For me personally it is not an issue. For some of my family and friends it is an issue.

    Thanks, and I hope you get more feedback from other readers.

    Regards, Howard

  • Sales Process Consultant 
Bensalem, Pennsylvania 
Howard Dion
    Posted by Howard Dion, Bensalem, Pennsylvania | Aug 01, 2012


    The folder on the desktop idea is a home run. That is what I do. I just click on it, add stuff, and then delete what is no longer relevent...which is usually a lot.

  • Biznik Director of Community 
Seattle, Washington 
Matt Lawrence
    Posted by Matt Lawrence, Seattle, Washington | Aug 01, 2012

    Howard - I have email folders I use like a champ.

    It's when I try to interest my friends on getting organized, they panic.

    Thanks you both for the new suggestions though, I'll let you know who bites - I have my first convert in sight. (it is somewhat selfish of me that he becomes more organized, as I want a better work flow for him so he submits more articles!)

  • Entrepreneur 
Seattle, Washington 
Michael Hartzell
    Posted by Michael Hartzell, Seattle, Washington | Aug 14, 2012


    Yes. Been using the -magic cards- for decades to do much of what you speak of.

    These 4x6 cards are always with me.

    Great points.... appreciate that you took the time to write on the WWW. :)

  • Executive Coach & Organization Consultant 
Kirkland, Washington 
Nancy Newman
    Posted by Nancy Newman, Kirkland, Washington | Sep 17, 2012


    I think this is a great idea. Actually, the phrase itself, "bunch and discuss" is a great "seed" concept to plant.

    I'm not at a desk in front of a computer that often, so the folder on the desktop isn't a fit for me in general. I use a "notes" app on my iPhone and then use the dictation function (to avoid typing!) to keep track of ideas I want to follow-up on when I get back to my desk and/or have more time (in my dreams) including things I want to talk about with others. I had intended to use the notes app in this way a long time before I actually got into the habit of doing it.

    In my experience, people resist these kinds of helpful ideas because they are so stressed and overwhelmed it seems like just "one more thing to do that I don't have time for." Of course it would help and save time, but the stress can block our access to rational thinking to say nothing of how hard it is to change behavior.

    That's why I like your phrase - "bunch and discuss." It gives me something to chew on in the dark recesses of my subconscious mind until I'm ready to implement. I'm not always ready to "jump on" to a good idea right away. But the seed implants nonetheless.

    Thanks for this stimulus! Nancy