During our last retrospective I spoke about how much I enjoyed a day when I could complete ten pomodori and it ended up in a really interesting conversation involving our agile coach.

First of all I had to describe what a pomodoro is. As it is not the aim of this article, let’s say it’s a block of usually 25 minutes of uninterrupted work. The next question was how I managed to do that. By sheer luck I answered.

This question gave me the chance to go into some details.

I had the luck to participate in the presentation skills training of John B. May. We spoke about time management which he also teaches. His theory is that most people could manage their time much better and greatly improve their wellbeing. They - we - work in an interruption-driven environment and others far too often “hi-jack” our schedule, our time and our jobs.

At this point our agile coach joined the conversation by mentioning a study in which two teams were given the same tasks, but while one was working as usual, in the other one the distruptions were seriously limited. Needless to say, the latter team highly outperformed the interruption-driven team. We couldn’t find that study, but here is an interesting article by Edward G. Brown efficiency expert about this topic.

Because I understand how bad it can be for your productivity when someone just pops up at your desk, I tend not to do that without being invited. Instead I send a message on our internal chat asking for a few minutes when he or she has the time. Even if that other person is right next to me. Unless it is something really urgent. But don’t be selfish, most of your problems are not that urgent.

After I explained my way of contacting people one of my teammates said that for her it was really difficult to integrate into her first team at our company. When she needed an answer, she went to the other person’s desk, because she felt and most of the time she still feels that she’d need an answer right away. Often she was told to make the contact on chat instead.

Great to see that I’m not alone!

Maybe the person who you want to contact got used to to interruptions and doesn’t care anymore. Maybe he is not do anything at that moment. Maybe he knows the answer right away. But maybe he likes deep work, maybe he is actually working on something and might need some time to search for the answer anyway. Popping up at his desk is really not the best option you have, but the most productivity killer one.

Be kind and ask for some time in advance on chat. It’s even better if you share your question giving him some time to prepare before he’d be willing to give his time to you. When he becomes available, maybe you are not, but still he can start thinking about your problem. This kind behaviour of yours will pay off with high dividends when you’ll also need some time to do deep work. If you don’t do it for the other, do it for yourself!