Task lists. Post it notes. Legal pads. Emails to myself (my current favorite). Napkins. Even the palm of my hand. I've written notes on just about everything. Little reminders to add to my task list for follow up. So much to do, and so little time to accomplish it all. Thank goodness I can go to my office and start tearing through my list. Sometimes my days fill up with work before they even get started. In fact, most days fill up before they get started. So that's what makes it all the more annoying when I have to stop what I'm doing and interact with people...wait...I mean....what's going on here?
Tasks Lists Are Not People
I may have missed something along the way, but the last time I checked people were a heck of a lot more important than the items on my task list. Sure, the work I have to accomplish is important, but it pales in comparison to those that need my support. Have you ever worked with a leader who could barely take their eyes off their computer, smart phone, or *groan* portfolio while you were trying to speak with them? Sadly, I've been one of those leaders from time to time. My recent feedback session with my leadership team pointed this out as an occasional issue.
Shame on me.
Interruptions = Trust
Have you ever considered what an interruption actually represents? Your team members have enough confidence in you that they're taking the risk of disrupting your day (trust me, they know you are busy), and ask for your help. That's a big deal. I once had a manager ask me what to do because when she asked her employees questions during staff meetings no one ever responded to her. She didn't realize she had completely lost their respect. They didn't trust her anymore. When employees step forward to "interrupt" they are extending a hand and asking us to help pull them along.
Do you reach back to them?
But I Have A Lot of Work To Do
...and so do your employees. So am I recommending that we toss our task list into the trash? Of course not. I would be lost without mine. But I would really be lost if the people around me felt like I had thrown them in the trash in favor of my list, or my Inbox, or Droid. I need to let go of my self-inflicted martyr status, and actually focus on those around me, when they need me.
How About You
Are all of those pieces of paper on your desk the focus of your work; or, is the line of people outside your door the real priority? Is it time to push away that task list and lend a helping hand?
I'd love to hear from you.
pics courtesy of Farm5 and Visual Photos