Stop what you’re doing. Stop right now! Yes, I know time is money, but you have no idea how much your business is under threat from a near-supernatural threat. They may not hang upside down from the ceiling, have razor sharp fangs or sleep in a coffin hidden behind an old filing cabinet in your archive room past 5:30 but they are nonetheless a threat to the harmonious running of your office. They are… The productivity vampires! Their intent is not malicious, they may not even be aware of how distracting they are but their (metaphorical) fangs can put a serious dent in your productivity and therefore your profits.
They may not wear black capes and have woefully pallid skin, so here are some useful ways to spot them and deal with them appropriately (a stake through the heart may be a but harsh in most cases) and focus on keeping your team on point…
They’ll put “A Quick Question” in the subject line of their email
When you’re distracted from the day to day operation of your business, every second counts. Before you click on the main body of a business email you should at least have a rough idea of the nature of the question. At best this sender is being inadvertently vague and at worse this innocuous sounding line is the lead-in to a sales pitch. Don’t feel too bad about sending these emails straight into your archives. If you’re feeling super generous, set yourself a reminder to action this after you’ve gotten your more pressing priorities out of the way.
They call you unannounced
We all know the odd combination of irritation and dread that runs through our veins when our cell phone starts to ring without warning during business hours. The caller likely has a pressing problem but it’s also possible that they’re up against something they don’t feel equipped to handle alone. This unsolicited call needn’t derail your day. If it’s super urgent let them leave a voicemail so that you can get back to them on your terms.
They won’t have a clear ask
You’re a busy person, and your time is precious and as happy as you are to help your employees, friends and colleagues it helps to know what they want right off the bat. If someone’s calling to “just pick your brains”, this is a potential red flag. Your off-task conversations need to be kept short, sweet and to the point without meandering into a casual chat or, worse, an unpaid consultation. Get them to send you a list of specific questions in advance and establish the time period in which you can answer them in person.
They don’t appreciate the value of brevity
There’s nothing more soul crushing than trawling through a lengthy ‘stream of conscious’ email desperately trying to get to the actual content. If you receive an email that’s overly long and meandering, don’t waste too long trying to make sense of it, send them this link and ask them to send you an abridged version that eschews the fluff and cuts to the quick.
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