There is nothing better than the feeling of giving to others, rather than receiving. However, as a wise man once said “You can’t drive on an empty tank”. When we give too much, we pay the price. The secret is getting the balance right.
Many of us are “givers” and have allowed ourselves to be at the beckon call of other people. We allow continuous interruptions to happen throughout our day. We don’t know how or when to say no, to the detriment of our own work.
Everyone has a right to say “No” and to set boundaries. If we don’t control our time, someone else will.
We need to accept that we will always have interruptions. We can’t stop them but we can discourage them. Putting our phone on silent, telling reception you’re busy or switching off email for a while is okay when you need to concentrate.
It’s not as difficult as we think, to take back our power and decide what we react to when we get interruptions.
Everything is not urgent - we need to stop reacting to every crisis. We need to ask ourselves – is it really our problem? And if we do this, what gets dropped? What’s more important? And finally, can it be done later?
And if we are too available, people may will take us for granted. They may stop helping themselves and perhaps even become too reliant on us.
The Chinese philospher Lao Tzu once said “care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner".
So, the question - is what can we do to help ourselves? Here are a few more ideas to try out.
- Work out when the interruptions happen – Is it early in day? Or on any particular day of the week?
- Set aside time for others to interrupt – It’s important to help others so build this time into your day. Perhaps suggest meetings with colleagues and direct reports at particular times throughout the day.
- Plan important activities around quiet times - work out when its normally quieter and plan the activities that require concentration around these times.
- Be realistic about workloads & suitable times – be realistic when planning. Do similar tasks together and work in chunks of 45 minutes to an hour at a time. And when you’re planning, remember if it takes 10 minutes, double it and add half again.
- Block out distractions – Screen your calls. Switch off your phone and email when you really need to focus. Also, move away from your desk and go somewhere quiet.
- Finally, remember to respect other people’s time too – so adapt these guidelines to help others too.