Throughout my career, adapting and adjusting has been par for the course. Most job descriptions included phrases like “handle conflicting deadlines” or “meet demanding deadlines” or, my favorite, “Ability to complete multiple tasks, projects, and priorities simultaneously to achieve the desired goal” because that is something anyone can do. Or maybe not… During my last corporate job, I managed a technical administrative team across multiple locations and was the executive assistant to the Chief Information Officer.
No matter the role: corporate, remote, or virtual, there are always moving targets, goals, and changing needs. This taught me how vital it is to adapt based on the situation and the desired outcome. If it was Monday and I was working on a report due Friday, and a team member needed help immediately, I would often adjust and help them out.
The tricky part was analyzing the situation. Key questions to ask yourself in these “I need you now” situations:
- Does the team member/client need you to do anything, or is it more that they needed to talk to someone so they could figure it out?
- If they need your help (whatever this looks like), how can you help: is it guidance, or do you need to do something?
- If you need to get involved, do you need to do it right now, or can it wait?
To get through the average day, those questions need to be asked and answered in the span of 5 minutes. In my early corporate days, I dropped what I was doing every time only to find out, an hour later, or worse, at the end of the day, that what I started doing was not needed until much later and could have waited for a more optimum time.
Asking those questions saves countless hours, energy, and wasted money. Focus on what is most important to get done first.
The same applies when working on our projects, and procrastination habits appear with the urgent “I need you now!” message.
What does this look like?
- We are working on a new project in our business, and a family member calls to say hi.
- A client emails to ask a question.
- Text messages and other messenger apps buzz and ping with new message notifications
How To Handle It
- Set office hours and stick with them. Let your family know you are unavailable except for emergencies during these hours.
- Schedule email time. Only answer emails during those times unless you can see it is a more urgent message.*
- Turn off your phone notifications – at least the sound notifications, so the ping, ding, and buzz noises are muted.
These are simple and effective techniques to manage your day more productively. What is your biggest obstacle with productivity?
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