“I Don’t Have Time…”

This is one of the chronic problems in today’s work place: too much to do and not enough time. Leaders may feel especially pressured by this issue with the myriad tasks and projects that fall on their plates.

Leaders, however, need to tackle this issue a little differently than those who work for you. People are relying on you and are going to interrupt your day almost always at the most inconvenient times.

The problem is that when you’re crunched any interruption is inconvenient for you. It’s not inconvenient for the person who walks into your office. Chances are high that the interrupter is aware of how busy you are and has probably waited until the issue just couldn’t wait any more.

What to do? Most importantly, assume that you are going to have interruptions throughout the day despite your most effective daily planning ritual. How you handle them is the key.

+ If you are on a deadline, ask your colleague if you can circle back after you’ve finished. Give an estimated time, and make sure that you follow up. (Many people say they’ll follow up and never do.)

+ If the person seeking help is also on a deadline, decide how you can balance that conflict. You may direct him to another person who can help, or you can take 5-10 minutes to give immediate guidance. Then you can follow up after you’ve completed your deadline.

+ Allow extra time in your schedule daily for these unexpected issues. If you’re scheduled back-to-back day after day, the interruptions will be unbearable. But if you plan unscheduled time (I know that sounds like an oxymoron), you’ll probably be able to catch up by the end of the day.

Be accessible even when you think you don’t have time. If you’re perpetually too busy, your people will stop coming to you. This will end up being a bigger problem that will sneak up on you when you least expect it.

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