I’m looking for some advice. I work in a very busy office. It can be very stressful and extremely fast-paced.

I’ve noticed that during my tea break or lunch break I have other staff, mostly managers or superiors coming in to our common room (some times for their own break) and assigning me tasks to do. The problems with this are:

  1. I don’t have my computer or even paper and pen with me, and if I forget then a few days down the line no-one’s going to remember the circumstances in which I was asked, just that I forgot to do something.

  2. This isn’t true of the tea break but the lunch break is unpaid time.. so it’s my own time.

Due to the breaks being so short I really do need to use the common room because it’s close by. I would also be perceived as avoiding people or having a strange attitude if I was to ‘hide away’ somewhere during my breaks. Also the amenities are there.

Should I bring this up at the next staff meeting or does it sound very petty? If I should bring it up, how would I approach it in a respectful way?


3 Answers 3


I usually solve these issues on spot and/or in one-to-one settings, as it is not that big of a deal to be solved or/and to be brought up on a bigger scale.

When they approach you in your lunch break, say something like this:

Sure, not problem. Could you please email (or hipchat? slack?) that to me after lunch so that I do not forget about it?

As pointed out in the comments, and if your company follows some issue tracking process, you would want to bring that up as:

Could you please edit/create the story(card, ticket.. etc), add task X and tag me so I can follow up later?

  • 5
    I think this is the right answer, I would just clarify/add - if there is a formal method for tracking work (ticketing system, bug tracker, etc) you can emphasize that. You're not simply trying to protect against your own forgetfulness, you're trying to preserve the entire value of your work tracking system - being able to account for hours, being able to look up past resolutions to issues, understanding workload and assignment, etc etc etc
    – dwizum
    Mar 22, 2018 at 16:01
  • I don't want to assume that this is a software development environment with a ticketing system, but most workplaces have some kind of work management system and it's common for "end users" to dodge those systems. We sometimes have the delicate challenge of steering them to use those systems without coming across as standoffish.
    – dwizum
    Mar 22, 2018 at 16:16
  • "Could you please email (or hipchat? slack?) that to me after lunch..." - Why are you asking to be emailed after lunch? I'd understanding phoning you after lunch but isn't a key feature of email that they can send it when they are free and you can then read it when you are? Is mentioning lunch a deliberate act to emphasise to the requester that you don't want to be disturbed during lunch? Mar 22, 2018 at 23:30
  • 1
    @RyanfaeScotland Correct. OP main goal is to not get disturbed during the break (by explicitly mentioning it), and this is the respectful way of doing it.
    – Sandra K
    Mar 23, 2018 at 13:29

If you are entitled to breaks your are entitled to breaks its as simple as that.

I don't know where you are from by in Canada we are entitled to a certain amount of break time. These break times are not defined, but we are allotted a certain amount of break time. The first thing I would do is take a look at when you are taking your break. Could this all be fixed by just moving it ahead or behind a bit?

If not, just politely tell the person "I am on break right now, but I'll get to it as soon as my break is finished" If its a simple task, just remember to do it. If there is important details then also request they send you an email with all of the details. It should be as simple as that. If that doesn't work, you need to talk to someone in HR or something to that affect.


I think you should mention it in a staff meeting. You should not have to worry about work during your break and it will benefit the company if you are able to record the request properly. If you are worried about how it looks on you then just explain how it has a negative impact on being able to remember tasks.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .