Workplace Hack: The Daily Interruption Memo

While I keep all of my to-dos stored electronically, I tend to start each day by planning what I’m going to do on paper.

While this is generally a good system, something pretty much always crops up that I haven’t allocated time for.

Danny Meyer, CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group, avoids these interruptions by having his executive assistant email him a daily memo every evening…

“It’s in four parts, and the first part is my next day’s schedule. Then comes a list of questions that cropped up during the day… The third part of the e-mail is FYIs: information I don’t have to act on but might like to know… Finally, there is a section of longer-term reminders.”

While we’re not all in a position to have a full-time assistant help us to remain organised, the daily interruption memo could be something we do for ourselves…

To follow this workplace hack, first cut yourself off from interruptions. You might not be able to do this everyday, but once or twice a week, take a day where you are not allowed to be interrupted. Don’t open your emails. Have your colleagues take messages for you. Don’t connect to the office chat system and shut your office door (or leave the office completely). Make sure everyone on your team, as well as any customers and clients, know that you won’t be picking up messages that day.

At the end of the day, check your emails, to-do list and messages and collate everything into the 4 categories as used by Meyer…

– Items that need to be done tomorrow, based on your new emails and to-do list.
– Questions from colleagues or clients that cropped up over the day – answer these immediately if you have time, or add them to tomorrow’s schedule if they require more thought.
– Information that you don’t have to act on but need to know.
– Any long term to-dos that you haven’t ticked off your list.

By cutting yourself off from distractions once or twice a week, you should be able to get your head down and make some real progress with your work. Most distractions that you deal with on a daily basis can wait until tomorrow so don’t be scared, try the interruption memo technique today!

Do you disconnect on a regular basis? Share your experiences in the comments below.


This hack is part of a series of weekly workplace hacks that teaches you about collaboration, productivity and time saving tips. Published every Wednesday.

Photo Credit: chrisjtse via Compfight cc