September 14, 2013

Ending Your Reign as the “Go-To” Person to Lower Stress and Improve Productivity

There are many reasons your job may lead to mental burnouts and dismal productivity. But if you find that your days are frequently lost to helping others with their technical woes and other office uncertainties, it’s time to take some action to take your time back for yourself. You may or may not enjoy your role as the unofficial office troubleshooter, but if you are unable to keep up with deadlines and your own assignments suffer, you could be risking your job.

It is a difficult balancing act harmonizing time spent helping your coworkers and taking care of your own work, so it’s not surprising that you may be stumped on how to proceed without damaging your reputation or your future career prospects. After all, you like being kind to your colleagues and they certainly prefer the quicker help you provide over the official channels. But, if you are reading this article, it is likely that at least some part of you wants the situation to change and you don’t quite know how to go about doing it.

The secret is to make a policy that allows you to prioritize your own work while still making you accessible to your office mates. Fortunately, there is a clear-cut method for defining such a policy that allows you to set the communication rules for how you are to be contacted in your unofficial support capacity. Let’s begin with how to properly implement your policy to make it enforceable and effective.

The first necessity for any personal policy is to get your boss on board. By informing him or her of your heavy workload, you can work together to develop a personal policy that directs precisely how others should contact you regarding your unofficial duties. The communications policy should be dual pronged, addressing both appropriate physical and electronic protocols for contact. The electronic portion dictates how other communicate with you via instant messaging, emails, or over the phone while the physical portion addresses how you are to be directly approached.

Set strict hours for unofficial work and make it clear that the rest of your day is only for your work assignments. Your colleagues must understand that their requests are a lower priority than your official tasks. If the initial policy doesn’t keep you from regular distractions, it may be time to consider a physical relocation.

If your office has any free space, especially an area where you can keep a door closed, you may find it useful to work out of that. Should this still not save you from distraction, you can look into working from home where communication will be kept at a minimum. You should also refer to your policy and insist that your coworkers respect the protocols and follow the proper channels. Once again, bring in your boss to remind everyone of the bounds of your unofficial work.

You may even decide that you savor your unofficial so much more than your actual job duties that you want to change roles. You might consider working for another department such as IT or some other help desk. If you are especially knowledgeable of specific topics and have good customer service skills, a new position may even make you happier with your job.

In the end, everyone should be willing to help out a friend or colleague in need from time to time, but if your generosity is harming your performance and stressing you out, your should immediately make a bee line to your bosses door. This may solve the issue quickly and with little fuss. But if you find that you are enjoying your unofficial “go-to guy” position more than your actual job duties, it might be time to switch departments so you can do what you love (helping people) every day of the week.


Read more in Stress Management

Joshua Bjerke, from Savannah, Georgia, focuses on articles involving the labor force, economy, and HR topics including new technology and workplace news. Joshua has a B.A. in Political Science with a Minor in International Studies and is currently pursuing his M.A. in International Security.