Feeling stressed when someone calls or a coworker drops by? It’s time to manage expectations, advises time management coach Elizabeth Grace Saunders in a recent Harvard Business Review article.
A quick response to texts, emails and phone calls has become an expectation—one we can’t always meet. This can leave us feeling guilty and even cue a fight-or-flight response, where we snap at the people who interrupt us or simply ignore attempts at connection.
So, how can you manage the expectations of others?
Communicate boundaries. For example, explain that on certain workdays you need to put your full focus toward meeting a deadline and will only be available if there’s an emergency. Or you may want to explain whether text or email works better than a call at certain times of the day.
Reduce time pressure. Create breathing room in your schedule by blocking out times on your calendar and privately labeling that time “margin.” To others, these blocks look like time commitments and reduce the likelihood of back-to-back meetings. Use the margin for extra work that pops up throughout the week, to clear your head, catch up on texts or phone calls, or even just to eat.
See the full HBR article: “What to Do If Calls, Texts, and Coworker Drop-bys Are Stressing You Out.”