It happens to all of us. We have a schedule for the day anticipating great results. Then they start. I’m talking about interruptions!
These interruptions range from “Do you have a minute?” to requests for attending a meeting or an entire project!
These interruptions result in additional tasks being added to your plate from family members, co-workers, supervisors, and more!
It’s hard to say “no” for multiple reasons. We don’t like to disappoint others. We want to be known as someone that is dependable. The ones others can count on. The “go to” person. I’m sure you can think of other reasons as well.
Regardless of your reason or reasons, each one results in “over-commitment!”
Now that I’ve shared what the problems are and the reasons we continue to fall into the trap of over-commitment, I don’t want to leave you there. I want to share some ways to achieve your desired results and still be the dependable, go to person!
The first thing you must realize when something is requested of you is it doesn’t have to be a “yes or no” answer. Instead of simply saying “no” which kicks in feelings of guilt or letting someone down, it is better to offer “assistance with timelines.”
For example, if someone wants you to review an organizational procedure, instead of saying you don’t have time, you can offer to help with a timeline by saying, “I’m happy to help you. I’m busy right now. Will tomorrow afternoon work?” This type of a response does several things. First, it lets the individual know you want to help. You are willing to contribute. You also have other commitments. The individual is learning that to make requests of you, time needs to be allocated to fit into your schedule. You’ll gradually find individuals will make less demands of you for immediate help because you are teaching them you cannot respond immediately due to your other commitments.
If the timeline doesn’t work and the requester must go elsewhere, the individual realizes your inability to help was due to the timing, not because of your desires.
This offer to help with timelines will also help you to overcome a self-inflicted perspective that everyone wants it right now. I know I had to overcome my own thinking in this regard. With each request I received, I used to think the individuals wanted me to drop everything and help. It wasn’t until I started asking “how quickly do you need it?” that I began to realize is was my own misperception.
Using either or both these methods, offering a timeline and/or asking for a timeline, gets the message across that you are busy, you do have commitments, and you do want to help.
Another way to address interruptions is to schedule them. I know it’s impossible to schedule interruptions or “unexpected events.” The key is to schedule blocks of time for activities rather than time for each activity.
For example, if you know you must create a proposal this week and you anticipate it taking three hours to complete, schedule three one-hour blocks of time for “proposal writing.” In addition to scheduling blocks of time for your to-do list you must incorporate blocks of time for “unexpected events.” If you have three one-hour blocks of “unexpected events” you’re building in time for those interruptions. So, when an emergency comes up at the office during your scheduled proposal writing block of time, you simply switch the blocks of time. Instead of proposal writing in the morning, you’ve now got your unexpected event time. Now instead of unexpected event time in the afternoon, you’ve got time for working on the proposal.
You will find the number of “unexpected events” blocks of time will gradually diminish as people become accustomed to asking you in advance for help.
These same strategies work with phone calls. When you are receiving unexpected calls, a great way to answer the call is “Hello, Joe, it’s great to hear from you. I’m going into a meeting in 5 minutes. Is there something I can help you with quickly or would you like me to call you back?”
By providing a timeline right away, it lets the caller know to get to the point and also begins the training process of getting the caller to schedule time with you in advance.
Without a doubt, everyone has a lot to do. We have obligations and expected results. We also want to be of service to others. The keys to “doing it all” are setting timelines and scheduling time for “interruptions and unexpected events.”
Afterall, since we know there will be plenty of both (interruptions and unexpected events), we’re setting ourselves up for frustration and failure if we aren’t scheduling time for them.
“If you don’t schedule time to catch up, you’ll never be able to.”
Take Action Today!
If you would like assistance with staying on track and scheduling your interruptions, I can help you. We can meet by phone, on Zoom, or in a place you deem safe with social distancing. Whether you choose me or someone else, a coach will expedite your results.
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Photo courtesy of www.pixabay.com/geralt
Published by Bryan M. Balch, Results Coach
Helping Individuals and Businesses Achieve Desired Results