What To Do When A Coworker Is Wasting Your Time

Anthony Roberts

What To Do When A Coworker Is Wasting Your Time

You’re working like mad to meet a tight deadline on a project, or you’re just on a roll and having a really productive day and getting more done than you expected. Then your co-worker decides to stop by and set you back to square one. It unfortunately happens more times than you’d like.

It’s not always intentional, but many times co-workers can find ways to distract you from what you’re doing. Knowing how to deal with these situations in a positive and professional way can save you time. It also eliminates additional stress from getting behind. Here are some examples of situations that can take up too much time at work

Drawn out meetings and phone calls
Face-to-face communication in meetings and phone calls are definitely important in the workplace. It can be frustrating when a co-worker schedules a call or meeting with you that isn’t necessary and leads to wasted time for both of you. Many discussions or questions can be taken care of with a quick email, which a lot of times can be a good place to start.

When dealing with someone that tends to take up more time than you have to go over things, try to address it before accepting the invite. Send an email with some parameters or even trying to answer the question directly. Let them know that you’re currently working on a project. Give them the information you currently have along with any updates. Ask if that helps with what they needed.

Also include that you want to be mindful of their time as well to make sure they don’t get behind with anything.

“I know you’re busy and I’m pretty packed today as well, but here are the things I wanted to share based on the question you had just to try and save you some time. If you still want to have a call, I’d be happy to if this isn’t enough information you needed.”

Including the part about knowing they’re busy too helps you avoid coming off as rude by just saying that you are too busy and don’t have time for a call.

If you know you can answer their question or provide the information they need by a quick email, then a lot of times they may decide the call or meeting isn’t needed after all.

Even if it’s not a quick email and takes 10 minutes to compose, that’s still a lot less time than a phone call or meeting would typically take. This can also help encourage the co-worker to address future questions by email more often.

Too much small talk
It is completely acceptable to want to engage in conversations with co-workers about their weekend and what they have going on. It should kept to a moderate level while at the office.

You want to build and maintain good working relationships and get to know people, but it’s still work and you want to make sure it doesn’t interfere with that.

It’s really easy to get pulled into conversations that start with a quick hello. Then they turn into a co-worker telling you several different stories about non-work topics. This can take time out of your day and put you further behind.

If you find yourself getting stuck in these conversations too often with someone and they are keeping you from getting done what you need to at work, try scheduling a lunch with your co-worker or meet after work if you have time.

If someone stops by your cubicle and you’re swamped, just let them know you’re in the middle of something you need to finish. Ask if you can catch up with them during your break. This will let your co-worker know that while you are busy at the moment. It is also important to you that they have your attention and you have an interest in them. A co-worker will understand that you have work to do as long as you let them know in a polite way.

Just saying you are too busy can show a lack of respect. It can make someone feel that you don’t care about what they have to say. This can also lead to a cold work environment and even more stress.

The important thing when dealing with these types of situations at work is to always keep in mind that people aren’t trying to waste your time on purpose and take you away from your job.

They have an interest in you and what you have to say.

Having this mindset will keep you from getting frustrated with them personally so you aren’t taking it out on them in the wrong way. You’ll be able to stay productive and maintain a friendly work environment.

About The Author

Anthony Roberts

Anthony is a freelance career coach with a combined 14 years of experience in management, recruiting, and career coaching. Along with a degree in Communications, he has expertise in resume and cover letter development, professional interview skills and etiquette, as well as job search and networking assistance. His passion is helping others appropriately convey what they can offer a potential employer to make them stand out.

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