As an immature manager who hadn’t realized how important the people working for him were, I would come home every night saying that I should be paid extra for babysitting. I even moved my computer from the front of my desk to the back corner in an attempt to reduce the volume of questions. It didn’t help, but I did quickly gain a reputation for being unapproachable (I will remind you that I wasn’t ready to manage people). I was moved out of the role, but
that’s a story for another day—it does end well (see The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas for details).
Why was I so frustrated with people asking me questions to solve customer problems or wanting my attention in order to build a stronger employee-manager relationship? It took some soul searching, but I did figure it out. What I found was that I allowed one-hundred percent of my time to be swallowed up by others who were dependent on me, and I found myself not knowing when or how I would get everything else done. If you’re a parent or even have pets, you may know the feeling that we sometimes just need a little time alone to do what we need for ourselves.
What I learned was that I simply had to create that time. It didn’t have to be long periods. Whether it was a quick five-minute breather or going to a quiet office to write a performance appraisal, that time made me concentrate on the task at hand. As a result, I became more productive and could then give one-hundred percent concentration when I returned. The built-up frustration of wanting to do something only to encounter obstacles because of the pull from those depending on us hurts our relationship building, and our time management.
When it makes sense, put up your own “Do Not Disturb” sign when you absolutely have to get work done. This can be literal or figurative, done with an online indicator for instant messaging, for example, or by walking away from your desk. Either way, proactively let people know that you’re temporarily not available. If you’re on vacation, turn on your out-of-office message. You can also practice just letting your phone go to voicemail and allowing emails to come in without an immediate response. Next, turn off the distractions that can take away from your actual work. Don’t sneak a peek at Facebook—your friends will still be there later.
You can be more productive and reduce frustration and interruptions by simply being obvious about your availability—people will respect it. Let people know that you’re temporarily not available, but that when you return they will have your undivided attention.
Thomas B. Dowd III’s books available in softcover, eBook, and audiobook (From Fear to Success only):
- Down the Chute: A Toboggan Tale (children’s book)
- Now What? The Ultimate Graduation Gift for Professional Success
- Time Management Manifesto: Expert Strategies to Create an Effective Work/Life Balance
- Displacement Day: When My Job was Looking for a Job…A Reference Guide to Finding Work
- The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas: Growing from a Cynic to a Professional in the Corporate World
- From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide received the Gold Medal at the 2013 Axiom Business Book Awards in Business Reference
- The Unofficial Guide to Fatherhood