A client told me today she had people in her office for 4 hours yesterday - FOUR HOURS! Multiplied times her hourly rate equals ... ouch. Additionally, her productivity was down and without question she was frustrated. She was finding herself in situations where colleagues would stop by her office with a question - and then not leave!
We created a short list of "get out of this conversation" actions: (1) Use a countdown timer on your computer. Set it to "ding" after 10 minutes, then excuse yourself to execute an activity that requires privacy (and for your visitor to shut the door on their way out). (2) Shut (lock?) your door. Route everyone through your assistant. (3) Use a "PWT" (private work time) object ... I learned this from an engineering client of mine who works in a cubicle environment. Whenever employees of his firm display a certain object (such as a mini orange work cone or even a sign) this was a signal they were using focused work time on something important and they were not to be disturbed. (4) Excuse yourself to check on a long-awaited fax or even to use the loo.
The mantra I hear often is: "I don't have time to do everything I need to do." When you set boundaries and keep them firm, you will find yourself with plenty of time to do everything you need to do ... and still have time to do the things you want to do.