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5 Things to beg your boss for this week

5 Things to beg your boss for this week

Unless you’re one of the nomads who has broken free of every attachment to the office but an internet connection, this short talk from 37 Signals’ Jason Fried will resonate with you.

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It’s great for managers to hear that they should minimize meetings, hire people they really trust to do great work, and work to empower instead of frustrate.

But what can you do as an employee to make a difference at your workplace? Request one of the following to start.

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1. Extended lunchesYou’re probably eating lunch at your desk these days so this will be a game-changer. Ask for a 2 hour lunch and make it a working lunch. Get out, stretch your legs, and settle into a quiet place for a solid hour of uninterrupted work time. You’ll kick yourself for not asking sooner!

2. Meeting agendas – If a meeting doesn’t have an agenda, you can argue that you won’t be able to prepare properly and won’t be able to bring your best contribution. In reality, agenda-less meetings tend to be a huge waste of time and using the “I want to give my best” argument is your quickest ticket back to productivity.

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3. To be excused – If the portions of a conversation relevant to you have been covered in a meeting, excuse yourself. Being in-demand is a huge asset and so long as you’re gracious and apologetic, you’ll get away with murder so long as you’re outproducing the people who stay for entire meetings.

Note: Perhaps that’s the key to anything like this? If you’re making the requests but not following up with a boost in productivity, you’re just spoiling things for others. On the flipside, if you put the work in and set a precedent for a more flexible view of scheduling based on your results, that’s good for everybody.

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4. For more work – If you’re getting more work done because of the changes you’ve made in your process, ask for more work. You’re ringing the cash register now!

5. For objective feedback – While being free of meetings and running around outside the office might improve your short-term productivity, make sure it doesn’t affect the long-term quality of your work. Especially for creative types, it’s important to get quality interaction with different perspectives and process-driven types who force you to think in new ways and try new things.

If you’re not getting face time at the office and chit-chatting at meetings, you’ll need to put the time in other places to stay on the same page with coworkers. Make sure your manager knows you care about making that happen and that you want her help and feedback on how you’re doing.

What else could you ask your boss for that I haven’t listed?

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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