Monday, February 18, 2008

People Clutter

[Warning: Today's QOD post very quickly led to a rant about People Clutter. Consider yourself warned.]

Actually, now that I think about it, what's been most genuinely disturbing of late is what I'll call People Clutter - the unending disruption to my concentration, and thus productivity, caused by people:
~ streaming in and out of my office and sitting down without asking, often just to BS or to eat from my candy dish
~ calling multiple times without waiting for a return call, sometimes without even leaving a voice mail, or worst, alternating between my desk and cell phones until I'm concerned or annoyed enough to pick up
~ hitting "Reply All" on every group e-mail so that a small afternoon project creates 50 messages, only one of which pertains to my department (if I'm lucky)

This noise, this People Clutter, is ridiculously disruptive. E-mail and text messaging is wonderful. Send me a message saying you need 10 minutes, or 2 minutes, or 2 weeks from me; suggest a time to chat about it; I'll get back to you as soon as I'm finished what I'm doing. See, some of us are able to prioritize our daily duties, and it isn't usually in anyone's best interest for us to break our focus to discuss your issue, let alone work on it, right this very second.

Think of it this way, if you needed to borrow sugar, you wouldn't just walk through your neighbor's front door, open the cupboard and take the sugar without asking. Well, maybe you would, but the rest of us wouldn't. Maybe she was planning on making a pie for the fam tonight and doesn't have any sugar to spare today; but she'll have more tomorrow if you can wait 'til then. Or maybe she can lend you some, but not all that you need. Or maybe she can lend you brown sugar; would that work for your recipe? You have to ASK her, compare what you need with what she can give. It's not all about you and your sweet tooth, buddy!

Time and focus are precious resources, just like anything else.

This is particularly important for someone with a sizeable team working on a variety of projects, and that's me. Heck, aren't most of our plates piled high? This is not to say that "I vant to be aloooone" all the time. I just don't want to hear you grouse about your shitty Saturday night date through a mouthful of my M&Ms, while I'm scrambling to put out the mini fire to which I've been assigned by the company president. Instead, regale me with the gritty details of your love life while we wait for fresh decaf to brew in the break room. (In the same vein, do NOT come looking for me in that break room to talk about work. Do NOT.)

Comprende? And, si, I promise to try and do the same, as I readily admit I'm not always innocent of these egregious offenses.

Author Tim Ferriss is a great resource for tips on streamlining your workload and schedule, and much more. A funny, insightful, useful read.]

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