With ever-expanding activities I am often finding myself in a situation that I call “requests – overload trap”. What it means is that I receive multiple messages, emails, slack and telegram notifications, all asking for immediate help. Most of these requests are not really urgent, but all together they make me think and feel all of the things below and all at the same time:
- Why people can’t solve their own problems?!?!?
- I took on too many commitments and if I do not respond to everyone immediately, they realize how stupid I am (OMG & SOS)
- You asked the same question last week, why are you asking again?!?!?!
- This is not really my job, what do you want from me (&%$#@&!!! multiplied)
- Why is it always so that until I do something myself, it does not get done properly (poor me, poor me)
- Why life is always so hard, I hate it(&^%$$#!)
Let’s say, I planned to do something during the day, then got distracted, derailed and diverted and ended up doing something else and feeling like a total idiot and not in control. It felt bad because whoever was creating more drama and better playing crying wolf, may have gotten my attention and been rewarded.
At some point several years ago I had a similar problem and ended up setting my phone on mute by default. Like always. I’m serious – if we don’t have a call scheduled, most likely I won’t pick up the phone.
This time around I decided to mute off all notifications and deliberately introduce two working modes:
- You cannot reach me through any channel no matter how hard you try. I am working on a specific document or going to the gym or whatever and I am not available.
- I am available and respond instantly and happy to chat (most likely I am also on Skype or Whatsapp or UberConference with someone else, but nobody needs to know).
It started a couple of weeks ago, and in the beginning it was scary. I felt guilty and was terribly afraid that something bad may happen. Or something good may happen and I miss it. I was cheating and looking at slack during non-scheduled times. But the alternative of “always available” was not working at all.
A couple of week in – and it’s working. Not perfectly, but definitely better. I have a tendency to apologize for not coming back sooner or somehow implying that I always must be available, but it’s definitely better than before.
Do you have a similar problem? How is it working for you?