When is the last time you took a moment for yourself at work?

Really give that some thought.

No matter the job, one thing I always feel the most entitled to, is asking for a moment. In my current position, I get asked a lot of questions, have tasks delegated to me, and I manage a lot of the daily logistics of my current organization. This means, at any time of day, in addition to non-stop emails, someone is at my desk or calling me on the phone to talk. Sometimes it’s to ask questions. Other times, it’s to confirm if an email was received, to expound on a particular task that has been given or provide information the colleague feels I should know.

In nearly all cases, me looking, and being busy does not seem to deter some coworkers. So I generally have to stop what I am doing, shift my attention and focus on them while trying to maintain my original train of thought. It’s a lot. This is why I started being honest with, not only my colleagues, but myself and ask for time and space.

Why It’s Important to Take a Minute

I am sure it makes me come across as a [fill in the blank], but one of the best things I do for myself at work, is ask for time or simply a moment. Whether it’s because I’m at lunch, reading or writing an email, in the restroom, or doing any number of things I do daily, if needed, I freely will say, “Can you just give me five minutes?” or “Let me call you back at about 9:15,” or “Can we move this meeting back 30 minutes?”

I don’t do it often, only when necessary. I feel it is a disservice to my colleagues to pretend I am completely focused, or presently interested, when I am not. Let’s be honest, typically people want to get things off of their desk or mind, so they shift the onus on you, which can create a sense of unnecessary urgency. It’s just the work culture.

Reconsidering Always Being Available

We are taught to always be available. Somehow, we have equated teamwork with never saying “no” or “not right now” or “I don’t have the time.” How many times have you sent your team an out-of-office notice letting them know they can access you by cell or email on your sick days?! There is a reason when you go on vacation you emphasize that you won’t have access to emails. In most cases, unless you’re going to some remote island jungle, you can have access, you just want to vacation in peace — which is totally fair.
Would we not be a better and more productive workforce if people managed their time honestly?

There is an honest case for asking for space and time. You deserve it, and your work will improve.


It is hard to say no. It is even harder to turn people away. But how much better would your work production be if you were undisturbed? We get sidetracked all day long with emails, texts, phone calls and social media, making it hard to focus as is. There is an honest case for asking for space and time. You deserve it, and your work will improve.

Our jobs ask a lot of us these days, and most people spend a great deal of time at work, but we often don’t feel we have the right to set our own boundaries and rules- practices that help us have peak work performance. When I ask to have a moment, sometimes I get a look of surprise from my colleagues, but most times people are respectful and completely understanding. It only takes one person to start a trend.

Let’s get this one rolling. Take a moment when you need one and see what happens.

Photo by Echo Grid on Unsplash
We get sidetracked all day by emails, texts, phone calls and social media. How much would your productivity improve if you were undisturbed. Maya James shares why it's important to take a minute occasionally.