Batch and Portal: An effective time-saving way to address questions in the workplace

I’m gonna head a bit off topic from running to address communication in a workplace.

We underestimate the importance of flow at work, as well as the negative effect of interruptions. Many jobs are built around the response to interruptions (e.g. retail, call center work, law enforcement, etc). But in many white collar jobs they usually aren’t necessary and most can be avoided.

Let’s never mind larger fundamental topics like open floor plans, open door policies, and other debatable topics. I want to toss out a better method of asking for assistance on non-time-sensitive requests or questions that anyone is welcome to use.

Again, I preface this by pointing out this is for non-emergency, non-time-sensitive items. Obviously, if the building is on fire, if someone needs an answer right this moment, if helping a customer, guest or VIP who needs help now depends on an answer to this request… interrupt whoever you need to as soon as possible.

For every other question or request, when it comes to dealing with someone you need to speak with a lot for these items… do what I call Batch and Portal.

Batch: Instead of interrupting every time you have a question or request, write each one down, and then bring them to the person every so often, whether that’s once an hour, once every few hours, twice a day, etc. By interrupting the person once with a set of requests, it saves them time, allows them to better focus, and does the same for you as well.

Portal: There are probably certain times of the day that are better than others to approach this person. We’re typically talking about a supervisor or a specialist with these instances, and they’ve got a lot of meetings, projects and other items on their plate.

Presuming you have access to their schedule or generally know their schedule, you can figure out which times of day are best to approach this person, when you know they will have time to address your needs. It sucks to batch questions, and then find out once you go to them that they’re in a meeting or otherwise don’t have time right now. Planning ahead allows you to get the info you need when you go to get it.

If in doubt, you can also directly inquire. Call/email/DM/etc and ask for a good time to come to them with questions etc. This allows both of you to plan ahead. And, of course, perhaps there’s a chance they’re free and can help you right away… but if not then that gives you both a chance to plan ahead.

If you have doubts, rebuttals, caveats about Batch and Portal… no need to fire back and share those. If this idea doesn’t work for you, you’re free not to use it.

But it’s worked well for me, for others who have applied it, and can work for you as well.

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