Project Management

5 Ws to Ask When Your Work Schedule Gets Interrupted

PMI Newfoundland & Labrador Chapter

Ogaga is a seasoned project management professional with over four years of experience. She has delivered projects across Africa, Europe and North America.

A lot of emergencies and unplanned tasks that seem important can interrupt your planned daily schedule. This leads to spending extra time at work—resulting in a poor work/life balance, and potentially pushing the entire work schedule back a day.

How can you be productive when this happens? The next time your planned work schedule gets interrupted (which is almost every day), consider asking yourself these 5Ws. They will help you maintain sanity and productivity at work—and facilitate a better work/life balance.

1. When is the emergency/unplanned task due?
As simple as this may be, we often forget to ask this question. We get an email from a key stakeholder, and we immediately categorize the task as urgent. This might not always be the case. It might be that they need it by next week!

Most times, it is not needed that same day, as they are aware you might already have other urgent tasks in your schedule. So before rushing off to work on an unplanned task, find out when they need it completed.

2. What is the duration estimate to complete it?
This will help you know the number of hours you need to free up in your schedule. It also gives you an idea of how many of your existing tasks you need to take off your schedule.

Imagine you have an 8-hour work day and 7 tasks to complete within it, where:

  • 2 of the 7 tasks would take 30 minutes each to …

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- George Bernard Shaw

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