Hi, I’m Annalena and I’m an addict.
I’m addicted to one of the most intoxicating and destructive phenomenons out there. I know I’m not alone, I know there are others who suffer from this affliction.
This post is for them. For us. For you.
I’m addicted to saying yes.
I enjoy helping, I hate seeing my team mates stressed and will do anything to help them feel more at ease. There’s nothing wrong with this but it’s not always the right thing to do. The thing is, although I agree to some extra work and take on some outside projects all the time- I have no right being a yes girl.
I’m not organised or disciplined enough to handle all of this extra work on top of my already packed calendar. At the moment I do not work intelligently enough to balance my work in the most productive way possible. The leaders of our team possess an enviable ability to be able to compartmentalise their work but at the same time they can pull seemingly unconnected strands together to create a wonderfully dynamic big picture. And until I reach this mutant level of productivity I’m left with muddling through a task list of things that don’t directly fit in with my job spec and that deserve more of an insight than I have to offer.
This is not an article promoting selfishness, it’s promoting awareness. This awareness needs to be applied to all areas of a situation that tricks you into saying yes when perhaps you shouldn’t.
The first instance for awareness is the issue itself.
Why is this task causing problems? What isn’t working that means it is now being offloaded on to someone else? Why has it grown into something more troublesome than it should be? Often we do not work to fix the problem but instead just seek to make it someone else’s problem. This ‘out of sight out of mind’ attitude means that work is transferred from one colleague to another rather than being analysed and reassembled into a working model.
The second factor to be aware of is your own workload.
Is everything running smoothly in your work life, or as smooth as possible? Are you delivering on all of your objectives and meeting deadlines? Sometimes it’s not just enough to say yes, are you confident that you can keep working to the same standard if another task load were to be thrown into the mix? It is important to be aware that although it is ‘extra’ work initially you will not always be credited for this added amount of work. It will devolve from extra work to just normal work and it will be absorbed into your working task list. You will lose the right to be called a martyr, after all you agreed to do it.
Think about the timeframe, what have you got coming up in the future that could affect this work? How long will you be taking over the reigns on this project? Be aware that there could be more steps to it than you originally thought and when you sign up for step 1 you sign up for a potential step 15.
This leads to our third aspect of awareness – make others aware of your intentions.
Before giving in to my craving and saying yes I now take the time to consider whether I am the best person to help, maybe I only offer to help with a certain factor because I have experience in that certain area. Recently I agreed to take on some extra work but I laid out a timeframe. I let the team know I would handle this in the short term but was not prepared to take it on full time. I set out the guidelines of what my actions would be and how I would handle the project so everybody was clear as to what my objectives were and how the project would unfold under my supervision. This means that when somebody does end up taking over from me they are left with a clear blueprint of how this project has progressed. I do this out of fairness and respect for myself, my clients, my team and the work I’m overseeing. None of these parties should suffer because of my inability to say no.
Although I have a long way to go before I can say the word no, I am practising taking my time before I say the word yes.