Requests-overloaded trap


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?

This entry was posted in career, in English, start-up life and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Requests-overloaded trap

  1. Last week I had a business trip to England and had a chance to enjoy it. So I logged off Skype. I read my e-mails and Viber, but missed all 1000 messages in Skype. 400 of them are still unread. Previous monthes my Skype was working badly and I actually enjoyed it

  2. Anna says:

    Hi Yana,
    as far as I know you speak several languages. What language does prefer in your mind?I mean what voice is in your head when you plan to mail or to write a post, etc?
    Re your topic.As for me – I’ll never reply the mail recieved as soon as I get (no matter if I have time to do this or not) – just because the late (but not overdue) reply worths more both in terms of sence of mail\impression of recipient.
    Also I’d better to ask smb (who is VIP for me) to call back later if I’m in the other matter. All others may try to reach me even thru extrasences.

    • Yana says:

      Now English is definitely dominant in my thoughts, i haven’t had any significant interactions in Russian for years, including reading and writing. But some things would always be in Russian.

  3. _A_ _P_ says:

    I’m your silent reader since many years, just following your unique carreer. For 10 years I’ve been working in a corporate setup that’s totally ignorant about appointments in the internal communication. You can literally enter everyone’s door (except Executives’) and start discussing your topic. And you’re always expected to be available for this kind of distraction. So we end up distracting each other almost the whole day. When I started working there, I got almost crazy and one day I locked my door from inside as I had to focus on a task. However I was told that it’s against the corporate culture and thus not welcomed. So I circumgo this culture by shifting my working hours which is fortunately tolerated. Being an owl, I start about 10:30 and leave at about 19:00. As most of my colleagues start between 7:30-8:00, they leave at 17:00 at the latest, so in the evening I enjoy two hours of concentrated work. An additional advantage of this shift is that the majority of “problems” (when people rather ask others than use their own brain) arise in the morning hours, so those “problems” had been already sorted when I finally arrived at the office 😉

    • bookapi says:

      I’m a night owl too and also considered moving work hours. How is this working for you with regard to social life, if you don’t mind me asking?

      • _A_ _P_ says:

        The only impact is that I don’t eat lunch with my colleagues, however since we’re constantly communicating I don’t feel a lack of networking. As to my spare time, I’ve never gone for social events like theatre Monday to Friday anyway. The only shortcoming is for my friends that I’m available for a chat or help at 20:00 at the earlierst.

  4. bookapi says:

    What about your kids? Do you keep a separate phone number/email just for your family?

    As for me, I would love to implement “no disturb policy”, because more and more often I find myself angry when I get interrupted working on an important project. Right now it seems impossible – if I mute our corporate messenger I won’t see all messages, including messages from my boss, which he certainly won’t appreciate.

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