Monday Hour One – Unexpected Interruptions

As COVID wanes, I am returning to the workplace on a hybrid schedule.

Yesterday, I had three half hours in my schedule that were derailed because I engaged in conversations with various people, catching up. These conversations are important as an auditor requires me to work with people across the organization and I find great value in them knowing me as a person and me knowing them as a person before we get into an audit situation.

I don’t want to deter these conversations but I have 3 questions:

(1) What would be a good way to shorten the conversations? In several cases, I felt the value add was over in about 5 minutes, but the conversation didn’t stop there. In one case, I even turned away and said to another person I need to talk to you (that was related to something on my calendar) and the girl kept talking.

(2) I want to engage in these conversations – I think the answer then is to increase my available overflow time (currently 30 minutes) for the days I’m in the office. I assume I will get off track and make it up at the end of the day – but then it seems I will have a lot of confusion swimming around in my brain about what I’m supposed to be doing if 30 minutes got used up then do I stay on the thing I’m working on for another 30 minutes and push everything back or do I stop because the calendar time is up and do it in the overflow time (which seems to fly against the focus aspect)?

(3) Should I never go to the restroom, the kitchen, or leave my desk for any reason except lunch and to go home? (Meant to be funny but maybe not so funny).

Also, I’m in an open environment so I don’t even have to leave my desk for someone to engage me in a conversation. And, because my back is to where people walk up from, I don’t like to wear ear phones. I’ve found people ignore them anyway.