Permission to say no

This was very productive for me at the office. At the beginning of the week, my boss gave us some pretty strict instructions that we needed to focus on getting some projects done. Basically, if it didn’t come directly from him, we were to tell whichever person was requesting our time that they needed to talk to our manager and we couldn’t help them. Simply put, we were getting too distracted by others pulling us into customer support issues.

I know what you’re thinking…don’t you need to be in those customer support issues?

For the most part, the answer is no, we don’t. We have several layers of support at our company and I’m on the last line of defense on several products. There are plenty of people that can help you out before you get to me, you just might have to wait a little bit to get their attention.

So what did I do, I basically tripled my time spent on my project this week alone. TRIPLED!!!! Last week I spent roughly 10 hours programming. This week, close to 30. That’s a HUGE increase in time spent slinging code.

What’s the magic sauce?

If you’re not supposed to be bothered at the office, make it so you can’t be bothered at the office. Its a simple formula that I think more people should try out. Here’s what I did.

  • Turn off Email. Only check it at certain intervals during the day. I choose the beginning of the day, lunch time and the end of the day.
  • Turn off your IM. Or at least set it to busy. I eventually had to set mine to Do Not Disturb with a note of “If its important enough, call me” I was set to only a “busy” status when a guy tried IM’ing me which I ignored and he tried calling me twice. If you can’t read your email and follow instructions, I can’t help you. Explaining the same thing over the phone isn’t going to teach you anything other than I can yell more than you.
  • Next week I’m going to spend a few more days working from home or working from somewhere not in the office. I think that will help even more by avoiding the “hey, you got a second” drive by consulting engagements.

So there you have it, by being able to tell pretty much everyone no, you have to talk to my manager…I was able to really kick ass this week.

Ask your manager for that level of cover fire and see what you can knock out next week.

Matt Patterson avatar
About Matt Patterson
Husband, Father of 3, Programmer at heart, spends his days running ridiculously large data centers in the midwest.