Ad hoc requests are tasks that come up unexpectedly, aren’t planned for, and are typically outside of a project’s scope. Regardless of whether your role requires you to assign these tasks to others or to complete them, they’re silently a productivity killer for everyone. But just how bad are they?
According to a survey conducted in 2008, between 40 to 60 percent of time spent at work was wasted due to these kind of interruptions. Culprits include impromptu meetings, last minute paperwork, redelegated tasks, even short email replies. That’s a lot of lost time. And time is money.There are two primary reasons why the current method of handling ad hoc requests is so detrimental to productivity:
Research conducted at the University of California, Irvine, found that it takes around 20 minutes for the average office worker to become re-absorbed in a task after an interruption. For some jobs like programming, it can take an hour or longer. We’ve all know the feeling of being “in the zone” when working on a task, and ad hoc requests remove us from that zone.
For fellow productivity fanatics who’ve read Getting Things Done by David Allen, you’ve experienced the importance and value of capturing every single task that comes your way. Capturing tasks allows you to get things off your mind. Otherwise, your brain will continually be distracted by the countless number of things you have to do.Capturing ad-hoc requests is a challenge both for the assignor and the assignee. As there are no effective tools for managing these tasks, assignors are forced to keep post-it notes all over their desks, or create convoluted color-coded solutions with Microsoft Outlook folders, or rely on their memory.Assignees on the other end are challenged to remember what they promised to whom, and for when. In addition they have no easy way to prioritize all the requests they receive. They may have captured the requests in their own to do list, but that does not help with these two issues.
How do we deal with this?
It doesn’t help that, on average, office workers are interrupted by something every 3 minutes. What teams need is a better way to manage and coordinate these tasks. Project management tools don’t serve this category, since they focus more on tasks within projects (obviously). Neither do to-do-lists apps, which are more for personal use. The ideal solution is a tool that automatically captures, schedules, and tracks (if you’re the delegator) ad hoc tasks within a team so individuals can maintain their focus through all the noise. That’s exactly why we created GipsyBot. We strongly encourage you to give it a try and see the difference it will make in your day 🙂