How to Deal with “Got 5 Minutes?”

productivity Jun 13, 2019

Has this ever happened to you?

You’re sitting at your desk, working away. Perhaps you are “in the zone”. You are getting so much accomplished you are rockin’ it!

Suddenly there is a knock on your door (or door frame or window).

You look up, make eye contact with them and say “hey!” (Oops! You just encouraged the start of a dialogue! Drats!)

“Hey, uh, got 5 minutes?”, they ask.

You sigh the moment the words leave their mouth knowing that you have left the zone and have no idea when you will be able to return.

What do you do?

Throw something at them? Probably not a good idea.

Ignore them? Too late. You already acknowledge them.


Let’s be honest, when someone asks you if you 5 minutes, it’s rarely ever 5 minutes. I would say never but I don’t want to paint myself into a corner.

Here’s what to do

If you truly don’t have 5 minutes, tell them so. Don’t skirt the issue. Answer the question directly. And don’t give in. Stay strong. But professional. Offer a time later when you can give them 5 minutes (or more).

But if they persist, and you do have 5 minutes, then do the following:

In front of them, open the timer on your smart phone, set it for 5 minutes, hit start and say GO!

They might ask you, “are you serious?”

Assure them that you are and that now they have 4 minutes and 45 seconds left.

If they tell you that that won’t work, say “that’s fine, I have 15 minutes at 2 pm available. Will that work?”

If they agree, say “great…see you then.”

However, if they start talking, be sure to tell them when there is only one minute left. This shows them you are serious.

Note: if they say they can’t wait and that it’s really important, you’ll have to judge for yourself whether to break your rule or not.

When they show up later, be sure to give them the courtesy of your full attention.


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