How do I avoid time-wasting interruptions from others? This is a question that comes up frequently in my programs. People often ask me, “Joyce, how do I set boundaries so I can stop interruptions and do the work that I want and need to do?”
Many of my clients have difficulty setting limits with others and speaking up for themselves. Their time is not their own because they are continually being interrupted. They may have a difficult time saying “no” to the request or demands of others.
International Communications Research (ICR) in New York surveyed over 1,000 people on how many minutes per day they are interrupted with things they don’t want to do. This did not include time spent online or email. Over 42% of those surveyed said that 100 minutes or more every day was spent fielding interruptions. This comes out to the following:
- 100 minutes per day
- 11 2/3 hours per week
- 26 days per year
That’s the equivalent of a five week vacation!
While you can’t make up for lost time, you can have more time to do what you want to do…starting today!
Here’s the secret to realizing this dream of having more time to do what you want. Be Direct with Respect® is the art of telling others that you can’t take care of their needs without sounding like a selfish person. It’s a skill that will show you how to stop interruptions at work in order to do your priority tasks. It allows you to do what you need and want to do and gain respect from others at the same time.
To some, “Can I have five minutes of your time?” really means, “Can I steal more than five minutes of your time?” Energy vampires who ask this question can suck the lifeblood out of you! Be Direct with Respect® is about those moments which are stolen from you. Stolen moments are when you want to take care of specific tasks and someone interrupts you and won’t let you get back to your priorities.
Here’s an example that may sound familiar to you. A colleague enters your office and asks you to help her with an issue that she is having with her committee. You really want to help her out, but you have a deadline that is urgent to complete. What to do? You can start the conversation out by saying, “I don’t want to let you down. I want to help out any way that I can, however I am a bit frustrated that I can’t help you out now because I have a deadline. I do want to give suggestions though. Please write your specific questions to me and I will help you out when I complete this project.” This way you are saying, “no,” while still being available for her later on, which is a win/win for all.