Too Many Distractions At Work? Try This Approach With Your Boss

A few weeks ago I was having a conversation with someone about their productivity issues.  More specifically how they were always getting distracted at work.

I asked what the problem was and it was a problem that I think is highly common.

“Too many small, meaningless tasks and meetings.”  In essence this person was inundated with emails that amounted to almost nothing.

They were caught in meetings that got them practically nowhere.

Essentially we’re talking about too much work that had absolutely no relation to the overall bigger picture.

And in total it amounted to hours (not minutes), hours out of every single day.

I see this issue all the time.

Imagine if those hours were actually being put into the growth and betterment of the company.

My suggestion

I want to preface this by saying that this exercise will help you in a few ways.  First off, it’ll tell you what kind of boss you really have.  And second, it will help you figure out what kind of boss you really want, that’s if you even want one at all.

The issue that this person and I discussed was a clear example of not only miscommunication but non-communication.

I asked if they’d ever approached their boss and asked what was expected of them.

I asked if they’d ever approached their boss and asked them what the most important things were to them.

The answer was a clear “no.”

Without knowing what your boss’s goals are clearly and succinctly, how are you going to do your job most effectively?

How are you going to help your boss most effectively?

You aren’t.

If you get an answer, do this:

So let’s say in a best case scenario you have the courage to muster up this meeting and ask these questions.

If your boss shrugs you off and doesn’t even give you a chance to ask or explain anything, you’ve got issues.

I’m not saying you quit your job but I am saying it’s a sure sign this is a person you’ll likely not want to work with for much longer.

But let’s say your boss is open.

Let’s say they give you answer like “look, the bottom line here is that we need our marketing and sales teams to step up, period.  I don’t really much care about anything else.”

That gives you a clue.  All that matters to your boss is marketing and sales.  Which means it’s likely that your company is mostly worried about marketing and sales (or at least your boss’s boss is).

Once you know this then you go in for your request:

What’s your request?

You need to make it clear that you need X to get your job done.   In order for sales and marketing to get better you can’t have these meetings as often.

In order for sales and marketing to improve you need to know that you can no respond to emails for a few hours.

You need to know that you can have some uninterrupted work time without people barging into your office or in your personal space.

You need to set up some rules that you and your boss both agree on.

Of course you’ll attend to meetings.  Of course you’ll get to those emails.  But if they have less to do with the bottom line, then they are less of a priority and therefore can be pushed off or even ignored in some situations.

If you can clarify that to your boss, your relationship and production will be that much better.

What do you have to lose?

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