Friday, July 9, 2010

Busyus Interruptus

For the last 28 years the Grindstone Institute has been performing studies on office busyness, and have today released their findings. The paper, which most people will themselves be too busy to read, reveals that finding out if someone is too busy to be interrupted is the leading cause of workplace interruptions.

‘It’s all very quantum’ said Dr. Charles Higgs-Boson, Lead Boffin on the project. ‘Basically, it’s impossible to observe the state of someone’s busyness without disturbing that busyness. Interrupting someone with the question “Can I interrupt?” will at best result in a withering response of “Apparently” and at worst lead to filling in a workplace incident form.’

If you must speak with someone but suspect they might be too busy, try sending an email. Emails are the most unobtrusive form of office communication. Email servers can be slightly unreliable though, so after sending it also go up to the person, let them know you sent them an email, and give them a quick rundown of the content.

If you prefer, call the person, let the phone ring once and then hang up. If they are busy they can choose to ignore it, and if they are not they can use the caller ID feature to ring you back. Do this every five minutes until you hear from them.

Sometimes you need to actually speak to someone face to face. Rather than talking to the person in question, however, approach their neighbour. Ask your questions clearly and loudly. If you can use words that sound remarkably like the name of the potentially busy person then all the better.

‘But be careful of the Busyness Feedback Loop®,’ warns Dr. Higgs-Boson. ‘Too often we see people spending so much time determining the best ways to interrupt others that they themselves become so busy they can no longer be approached.’


  1. Ahh, the dreaded Busyness Feedback Loop®. Pesky little critter that.

    I often find it's most effective to do the following - pop into someone's office and interupt them to tell them that you're going to send them an email. Or advise them at the urinal or brothel.

    Send said email. Follow it up two minutes later with a phone call to see that they recieved it. Then send them an instand message. Then phone them again. Then send a meeting request to discuss the email you sent. Then send them an instant message to say you've sent them a meeting request. Then pop into their office/toilet/brothel to advise them that you've sent the email/instant message/meeting request/instant message and should you organise a meeting to discuss all this because you've forgotten what the point was.

    Probably something about where to go for lunch.
    Or something about cheese perhaps. Or gophers. Probably cheese though.

  2. hi robb,
    its AJ.
    sorry, was too busy to read this. if you've got half an hour I will tell you at great length and in detail exactly how busy I am and how I dont have 2 minutes to scratch myself. right now I am supposed to be completing something, but I am so busy, that I just dont have the time. infact I reckon I am probably the busiest person I know. I spend an hour yesterday trying to think of someone busier than me and couldnt come up with a single name that comes close.
    gotta go, cant talk, i'm busy (actually speaking of how busy I am, did I tell you about the time I was so busy.............)