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Everyone seems to be too stretched for time these days. Yet when almost anybody asks, “Got a minute?” C30WoodHourglassY3most people automatically answer, “Sure, how can I help?” How can you stop saying that each and every time and take more control of your busy workday? The following are some suggestions from Edward G. Brown, author of “The Time Bandit Solution: Recovering Stolen Time You Never Knew You Had.” http://www.timebanditsolution.com

* Name the problem. As they say in therapy circles, if you can’t name it, you can’t fix it. Here’s the name: It’s not a minute – it’s an interruption. A minute freely chosen and freely given is innocuous, but interruptions are thieving little intrusions. There’s the interruption that throws you off task. There’s loss of momentum due to the work stoppage. There’s also the time wasted reorganizing your thoughts.

* Know your facts. If you have a budget with X dollars, there’s no agonizing over a decision. The dollars tell you yes or no; no argument, no drama. You need the same facts about your time. You need to have a complete awareness of those tasks that are so important that leaving them undone will cause serious problems. This means separating them from that long list of things that distract us, e.g. “busyness” as opposed to critical tasks.

* Don’t say “no.” The opposite of “yes” doesn’t have to be “no.” Say something like, “Joe, I would like to give you my full attention, but I am swamped right now. May I get back to you when we can chat?” This lets your “time bandit” know that his or her best interests aren’t served any better than yours by interruption. Most of all, they keep you from sounding like that selfish, non-team player jerk that you dread.

This is a condensed version of an article that appeared in the February 2015 issue of “Employee Assistance Report.” For more information on this newsletter for EA professionals, visit http://www.impact-publications.com.