How to plan for interruptions from your boss


Hi Brooke,

I am new to SCS this month (and so far, it has been great!), so I missed the month about planning. I work for a small nonprofit where we most, if not all, of the work we do is extremely time sensitive. However, so long as you get your work done, it doesn’t matter when you come in or leave.

One of the jobs I have is to produce a daily, pre-recorded, radio show. My boss hosts and has five guests each day. I know that your outline for planning is to 1) not plan activities, but plan for a result and 2) put it on the calendar and do it regardless. The further I can plan and book guests the better, but my boss’ schedule changes frequently (and it is usually last minute). Therefore, I try not to book too far in advance because canceling or rescheduling guests has caused problems. The guests are a select pool of experts, many of whom can’t be replaced, and if we change things around too much, they get mad and won’t do it. Or, we just lose a good opportunity to talk to someone really valuable.

Say I calendar one hour of time to book the show for an upcoming day. First, since the spots are for specific times, I can’t ask more than one and people vary greatly in response time. Second, during the hour I am working on booking, I will get interrupted countless times. The majority of the time, I have to immediately take care of something else.

I started coming in three hours before everyone else. That has helped, but the morning is when my brain is at its’ best, so I have tried to keep that time for what most requires brain power. It is when I do all SCS and thought work, etc. (I don’t have to be at the office for this, but if I go in that early I don’t have to sit in an hour and a half of traffic, which is worth it). This time is carefully structured, and I can stick to what I’ve planned until other people start coming in. I also have no problem saying no to my coworkers, but when my boss needs something time sensitive, I have to do it. Or, let’s say I do have everything done for the day, and I am ready to head out and have my calendar full of things I have planned, and my boss has changed his schedule and I have to start from scratch again. Yes, of course, I can tell him “Tough luck,” but ultimately, the show must go on (and the producer must produce that show).

Here are my key questions:
1) How to I effectively produce a result in a set amount of time that is contingent upon someone else getting back to me when I can’t plan further than a few days, and can’t ask more than one person at a time?
2) How do I deal with interruptions from my boss, who I can’t truly tell to wait (if it is not time sensitive, I already do not change my plans) and still stick to my calendar?

Thanks so much for your help!