I wanted to share this great article that a friend of mine wrote, Nibbled to death by ducks, as she worked through the constant interruptions to her time. She's the chair of the physics department at the University of Wisconsin Stout.
We all deal with these little interruptions to our day, the knocking on your door as you're trying to write a document or put together a budget, or any of the other innumerable things she does as department chair. While some of the interruptions could have been opportunities for coaching and leadership, most were simply administrivia that didn't require immediate attention. Laura needed additional structure to her day, and defensive calendaring just wasn't doing the job. So her spouse suggested a visual reminder — both for her and for others — about how all the "little things" can quickly add up.
Laura's catchphrase is "being nibbled to death by ducks" so she set up a bunch of little rubber ducks in a box. Whenever someone impinged on her time, she moved one duck to the other box. That served as a nifty reminder how these "little things" stack up.
Over time, as people became aware of the "ducks" experiment, Laura found fewer people stopped by to interrupt her. The faculty began to help preserve Laura's time. And by extension, to become more independent. In the post, Laura mentions a comment from someone in her department, that "the duck showed both positive and negative impacts for her: yes, it was a nibble on my time, but it was also a symbol of my fixing something for her, which is my job."
I thought it was an interesting way to visualize these little disruptions.