How to Say No to Your Boss at Work and Increase Productivity

Alex Are you Free?

This is the moment you weep. It is 3:45 p.m., and you have to complete a report before you leave the workplace. Although it is a crushing schedule, you know you can just about handle it. But then, your plan gets slammed as your boss arrives next to your desk and says, ‘Alex, are you free?’ You look at your screen. You stare at him. He is waiting for your response and what he is proposing is, ‘Are you doing something more important than me.’ You look at him and respond, ‘Yes, of course’ as he gives you a file for completion by tomorrow 11 a.m. – which means yet another hurried meal and a sleepless night.

Are you free?

You may lead a group of co-workers who try hard to be practically effective, target-orientated, and hard-working, but that means having a schedule and sticking to it. Unwanted interruptions, particularly if frequent, obstruct work schedules, waste precious time, decrease productivity, and are extremely stressful. Such an ‘are you free’ working culture is a methodology that regularly indicates a lack of respect for the necessary discipline required to work efficiently. Relationships with colleagues should be cooperative and friendly, which means respect for others’ time and workload.

However, we are confronted in our ‘always available’ world. Today, with smartphones, social media, email, and remote working teams, we tend to become always open for anyone who wishes to make communication, for any reason.

But there are ways to meet this confrontation

Do you disrupt yourself? Of course, you will respond with ‘No!’ but if a piece of the job is rather dull, do you find an excuse to respond to an email that has just entered your inbox? Do you look for any Instagram notifications? Do you check your Facebook account and watch a few videos? And then, when you do come back to your job, do you catch yourself saying, ‘Damn, where was I?’

Set Goals: At the Saturday before you leave the workplace, ensure that you set your schedule for the next week and check that you have completed all your existing plans and targets.

Controlled interruptions: We all need quick breaks within our working day but treat these as gaps between work tasks, so that it is evident when you are working and when you are taking a break. Employ a certain level of self-discipline; otherwise, it is all too simple to expend focus upon the work in hand.

Choosing after picking: Learn to reply to interruptions in a way that promotes a disciplined approach to work. Do not either lessen the impact, be keen to agree to every demand on your time, or become annoyed and unwilling to respond. It requires an honest approach. You do not want to seem unhelpful, but others need to value your time and their own.

‘I’m swamped’: Apart from placing a DND (DO NOT DISTURB!) sign on your desk, there are other means of letting your co-workers know that you are busy. One of these is to say, I hope you don’t mind, but now is not the right time for me, can we talk a little later?’

Say ‘No! Never a simple one if the person who is hindering you is your boss. However, if you explain that you have a stringent deadline to adhere to but are glad to give your time immediately afterward, this will probably be acceptable. This skill needs training and can put you back in control. Remember that your supervisor might not know what work you need to finish, so you need to be transparent, polite, and accommodating.

There are no definite answers to being interrupted. However, some are within your control. The above tips can help you manage your time better and avoid unnecessary interruptions by controlling them rather than vice-versa.

The good news is that once you can manage those outcast breaks in continuity, your productivity and performance can increase dramatically. 

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