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Your Office Coach

Boss keeps interrupting your workflow? Give this retort a try

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Q: “I am an administrative assistant to my manager, who is constantly coming to me with questions and little tasks. These interruptions make it hard to concentrate on my work. When she asks me to phone someone or find something for her, I lose my focus. How can I get her to stop bothering me?” Annoyed

A: If you continue to be irritated by your boss’s requests, you may soon have much bigger problems. By definition, administrative assistant positions exist to support someone else, so frequent interruptions typically go with the territory.

That said, however, your manager certainly owes you the courtesy of being clear about expectations. If she has assigned you projects, but interrupts so frequently that you can’t complete them, then you need to clarify her priorities.

For example: “I would be glad to schedule the job interviews and install the new software on your laptop. However, that might keep me from finishing the budget report this afternoon. What should I focus on first?”

Asking for a daily list of tasks might also help to reduce the interruptions. But if distractions generally drive you bonkers, a more project-oriented position may be a better match for your personality.

Most bosses have at least one annoying trait—but for the sake of your career, you should find a way to cope with it. Here's some advice: How to Manage Your Boss.

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