Office Superstitions to Give Up!

In honor of Friday the 13th I wanted to take a look at office superstitions.  I’ve found four very prevalent ones that create heated conversations when I ask people their opinions on them.  Let’s look at them individually.

Open Door Policy:  So many people think if they are in a company with an open door policy they can only close their office door during a private meeting.  I believe this is false.  If you have to focus on a task then it’s okay to close the door at times.  This is not permission to keep your door closed more than it’s open, just permission to choose wisely to close the door to focus.  I used this particularly when doing performance reviews for my employees.  I never kept the door closed more than an hour at a time and never more than for two in one day.  No one complained and I got more done.

Can’t Say No:  I have worked with too many people who think they must say yes to everything they are asked to do.  Again, it’s important to know what you can decline or defer and to do so when appropriate.  Sometimes when your boss adds another item to your to-do list you NEED to ask what can be delayed to get this done, or can someone else handle something for you.  There are times when you are asked to help with something because everyone counts on you to say yes and pitch in.  If it works for you and is not career suicide there are times to say “I’m sorry I’m tied up right now on XYZ.”  This will help you get things done and allow others to step up and do new things.

Must Respond Immediately:  A pet peeve of mine is the belief that all emails and phone calls must be answered immediately.  This is so disruptive to your day that you have to get past this superstition.  Granted if you are in a help-desk type of position then you do need to answer quickly.  However, most of us have other duties and these can be best accomplished when we turn off or close email and deal with it at predetermined times.  Same goes for the phone, if you are entrenched in a task that requires total focus turn off the phone and when you reach a breaking point then you can deal with messages. 

Multitasking Works:  Multitasking is one of the biggest urban myths around right now.  It really is not possible to do more than one thing at a time effectively.  Now I do agree that if you are on-hold for a call you may be able to scan your emails or do some filing.  However, when things require your attention you must keep that attention undivided.  Do one thing at a time and get it done more quickly.

Giving up your superstitions will help you stay focused and on task.  This will allow you to be more effective and productive during your day.  The key is to know what to give up and how to manage your duties.  Good luck and happy Friday!

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