Empowered healthcare managers don't have a lot of time to squander. That's because you're doing far more than just waiting for the next crisis. You're building, creating, solving, improving, and empowering others. You have an open-door policy because you want to be accessible, but there are strings attached.
Everyone on staff knows not to enter your offices with a problem unless they are prepared with a possible solution. The staff knows they don't wander in just to visit, or to communicate something that could have been transmitted by email. They know their entrance into your office needs to be purposeful, important, and brief. If you wanted pointless intrusions you'd leave your email program open all day. But you don't. You employ the Dr. Pepper approach to emails, checking for new messages only at 10, 2, and 4, then getting back to work.
When someone squanders your time, one of two possibilities exists: 1) they don't know they're squandering your time or 2) they don't respect your time. The first is easier to fix than the second.
Make sure everyone on staff knows what constitutes an acceptable drop-in, e.g., the building is on fire, a customer demands to see a supervisor, an immediate decision or action is needed, a dispute is out of control, or someone needs to be fired on the spot. If an issue can't be handled by email, a request by email for an appointment to discuss the issue is preferable to an unannounced drop-in. Anyone who thinks it's better to ask for forgiveness than permission is guilty of willful disrespect.
After defining a legitimate interruption, you will be tested. "Next time, just send me an email," is a sufficient response. Only when the boundaries to your time are repeatedly violated can you conclude there exists a lack of respect for your time. When it becomes obvious, it's time for a heart-to-heart. Ask why intrusions continue despite your plea for alternative forms of communications. Re-establish how disruptive the intrusions are, that it makes you feel your time and authority are not being respected, and lay out the consequences for the continued squandering of the only non-renewable resource you have.
Starting today, tally the number of unexpected drop-ins. Each one breaks your concentration and causes you to unplug from the task at hand, then replug back in. Depending how deeply involved you were, ramping back up to the same level of concentration may cost you fifteen minutes or more. Over a week, month, or year, what you lost can be staggering.
If the number astounds you, set the staff straight. Re-establish you have an open-door policy for good reason, but your availability has strings attached. Those strings are what keep you productive, effective, focused, and empowered.
Squandered time wants to demote you to ordinary.