How to manage constant interruptions by your boss

Often, good work/life balance hinges not so much on "balance," but rather on "productivity." After all, the more productive you are at work, the more time you'll have to do what you love away from work.

With that in mind: The biggest obstacle to work/life balance isn't necessarily all the work you have to do; rather, it's all the distractions that prevent you from doing it -- including your boss, according to Fast Company contributor Art Markman.

"Remember when you were a kid and one of your parents had something important to tell you? So they told you. And then they told you again. And then they found another way to say it. And all the while you just wanted them to stop, because you got it. This kind of thing can happen at work, too," Markman says. "This is tough, because you don't want to be disrespectful, but you do need to get your work done."

So, what to do? One idea: Schedule a coffee date.

"[It's possible] that your boss doesn't actually have that many people to communicate with at work who aren't direct reports. The transition to a supervisory role can be lonely … Maybe your boss just doesn't have anyone else to talk to," Markman says. "That doesn't mean you need to be available for constant interruptions just to chat socially, but you might want to have some sympathy. Suggest grabbing a cup of coffee every once in a while as a substitute for random drop-ins. You can always say, 'I've got to wrap up this project right now, but are you free to grab coffee this afternoon?' You can even use these opportunities to learn more about what it's like to be in a supervisory role so you can get a leg up on preparing for your own future."

If your manager's interruptions aren't social, one way to get them to communicate less might be for you to communicate more.

"In between a laissez-faire boss and a micromanager are managers who are just worried that things may not go perfectly. So they keep making little suggestions, hovering, and checking up on how things are going," Markman explains. "You can pre-empt some of this nervousness with updates on how projects are going. Give regular progress reports on key projects. Start by giving those updates fairly often, and gradually increase the time between them. You can slowly start to wean your boss from needing to know the details of what you're doing, and trusting that you're actually getting things done just fine on your own."

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