Got a Minute? How to Stop Being Taken Advantage of at Work
Who has the time to finish all of these tasks? I silently asked myself as I pondered what time I would get home on this night. Another Friday where I found myself rushing to complete as many tasks and projects as possible before the week’s end.
As I scrambled to collate a bunch of worthless reports and documents, it occurred to me that I was doing something seriously wrong. Not procedurally wrong and not wrong with the way I processed and completed my work. What I realized is that I do not know how to tell time!
Imagine that? A mid-level manager, with above average intelligence, that could not tell time? Somehow my brain does not seem to register when it is time to go home. When everyone else looks at the clock, they see 5:00PM as quitting time, while I see it as time to start calculating how many commuter buses are left for me to catch that day.
Surely I could not be alone in the corporate world with this dreaded infliction. There must be others who suffer silently as I do. After some long thought on the subject, I concluded two very important points. First, it appears that for those of us with this problem, our hours of operation are not the same as our bosses. Their close-of-business (COB) may be around 4:00PM or 5:00PM while that equates to about 6:00PM or 7:00PM to us!
Secondly, I realized while many people may label us as workaholics, this may not be the issue at all. Rather, I believe the root cause is that that we are “pleasers”. That is to say, we are very caught up with pleasing everyone else, even at our own expense.
Being a pleaser can be very dangerous and time consuming. There are however, warning signs to look for. Many pleasers will not, or perhaps, cannot say no to requests from not only the higher-ups, but even subordinates! Granted, while there are many perfectly innocent requests for assistance, be forewarned, there are manipulators out there waiting to take advantage!
Watch for the warning signs! They can be very subtle, such as a co-worker asking, “Do you have a couple of minutes to look this over and tell me what you think”. This is a classic example in which someone shifts their workload to you. Most of us pleasers fall for this hook, line and sinker, not realizing we have just added a couple of minutes to our day - pushing us past 5:00PM!
The first step to improving your situation is to preciously guard your minutes. It is amazing how many people will tell you it will only take a couple of minutes for this or for that. These minutes add up to hours! Think about whether or not the person asking is actually working as many hours as you do. If not, then when they ask you if you have a minute, the answer is simply no.
Now, for those pleasers who might be afraid to take the hard-core position to turn people down, there is an alternative. When someone approaches and asks. “Do you have a minute?” Your reply should be, “Sure, come by about 5:15PM and I’ll give you a couple of minutes”.
As I finished clearing the last few files off my desk, I felt some vindication playing these scenarios over in my head. My joy turned to irritation as I glanced over to the wall clock and learned it was almost 7:00PM!