THINKING BUSINESS
a blog by Chris Barrow

Don't become The Mistress of the Monkeys



I was reminding a client yesterday that she didn't have a minute.


To explain, the conversation was around her challenge with getting any work done ON the business when present in the practice premises.


You can ask to be left alone, you can put a "DND" notice on your desk and your desktop, you can shut the door - all to no avail. Tap, tap, tap.......


"Have you got a minute?"


"I know you asked not to be interrupted but......"


What is going on here?


Every problem can be visualised as a monkey that sits on your shoulder, flicking your ear, until you can either solve the problem (the monkey leaves) or - pass the monkey to someone else.


So you may well find that the majority of your interruptions are not genuine requests for help or information - they are just monkeys being transferred from one shoulder to another..


This, of course, culminates in that popular Friday afternoon game - "pass the monkey" - because, if you get to finishing time on Friday and you still have the monkey - you get to take it home for the weekend.


That's why those with weak boundaries end up hosting monkey sanctuaries.


Even in the good old days this was a problem. This year there are more monkeys than ever and, it can seem, more team members eager to pass them back to you.


I make a quick distinction between a genuine emergency (you have to respond) and simply someone trying to make their life easier at your expense.


The strong boundaries I'm talking about include:

  1. Getting off site when you want to work ON the business;

  2. Learning to say "NO" when that tap, tap, tapping begins or;

  3. Learning to say "I can't answer that right now but if you come back at 16:00 I have allocated an hour to deal with questions."

Without those boundaries, you become the Mistress of the Monkeys, exhausted at the end of every day and wondering what, if anything, happened and why your task list is getting longer.


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