Bring Your Brain To Work

A few organizations strive to establish other relationships among employees. Notably, the military needs soldiers to have a family relationship. Soldiers are expected to be willing to die for one another, which is a debt that cannot be repaid. Thus many of the rituals in military training are designed to create a family from people who started as strangers. Similarly, nonprofits may treat their donors like family, because big donors make contributions that can never be repaid in kind.

Luckily, two strategies are available to people who have difficult saying no. You can begin by asking permission to turn down a request. You can say you are really swamped at the moment and ask whether someone else might be able to handle it. That way, you'll learn which re quests you can safely pass along to someone else. And if the request is something you eally do need to take on, you can ask for help delegating something on your to-do list to someone else. Look at high-priority on time-consuming list items and ask for recommendations for who might be able to take them on so that you can focus on the new request. It's better to maintain a manageable list of tasks than to disappoint people by failing to complete things you promised to do.

Finally, work with your colleagues to manage your availability for quick conversations. When you're interrupted for even a short conversation, you may need several minutes to get back on task, and that can deal a blow to your productivity. Try to develop a system that alerts your colleagues when interruptions are fine and when you'd prefer to work without distraction. Many cubicle farms have bugn to use red, yellow, and green pointers to signal openness to interruption; red means "Do not disturb," yellow means "I would prefer not to be disturbed," and green means you're available for conversation.

If you're having a hard time getting work done, play around with your environment to learn what will allow you to be the most productive. Once you have a good sense of how you work best, chat with your supervisor to see if you can structure your setup to accomplish your goals while still being available to your colleagues when needed.