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I started at my current company a few months ago and am currently growing into a more Senior role as a DevOps Engineer. This is my first time going into a more senior role and I am wondering what kind of methods can be done to prioritize my time spent with helping my colleagues out being a resource and still have time to do my work. I sure appreciate the added responsibilities but I need to make sure I have enough time to get my work done.

So far I have considered doing an appointment based scheduling for my team members. My question is: What kind of methods should I try that can help me continue being a resource and being able to complete my tasks?

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    Do you have any official guidance from your boss on what your responsibilities are to your team members vs your own work? In other words, if "helping others" is officially part of your job, has your boss told you whether to place that over your own tasks or not? – dwizum Jul 3 at 14:33
  • Based on your question, can you say that lately you've had the feeling that you are not as productive as before, and would like to improve that? – DarkCygnus Jul 9 at 18:35
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+50

You're clearly a great resource for your colleagues. Here are some ideas of how to protect time for yourself while being respectful of the needs of your colleagues:

  1. Talk to colleagues that demand an exceptional amount of your time. Let them know you are glad you can be helpful, are always available for challenging problems, but encourage them to engage other members of the team for help as well. Be honest that you're worried about getting your own work done.

  2. Use a semaphore. If you have an office, close the door for a few hours a day when you need to get work done. Let your team know they can interrupt you if needed, but the door closed signals that you're working to meet a deadline. If you don't have a door, use headphones - the over-the ear kind are the most comfortable. If you use a chat application, mark yourself as busy.

  3. Physically remove yourself. Work from an empty meeting room, the building cafe, etc. when you need to focus and get work done. If you are urgently needed by your team, they can always call/message you and you can return, but this extra step to getting your attention may encourage some team members to wait.

  4. Designate topical experts on the team. If you have team members that are sufficiently knowledgable on a topic, make them an expert by title (e.g., "GraphQL Guru") and indicate that questions on that topic should be directed to the expert. Of course, confirm with these individuals that they feel comfortable fielding questions.

  5. Engage your peers for help. You're not the first at your organization to experience this. Ask your peers or more senior managers what they would suggest. You may get some good ideas there.

  6. Teach your team to fish. Some questions can be answered without you, but asking you is easiest for the team. For questions like this, instead of providing an answer, walk your teammate through the process of finding the answer in a manual, documentation, or on the internet.

I would encourage you to use a system that makes it okay for your team to “break in” when they run in to an especially hard or urgent problem. Making your team feel empowered and productive is an important part of your leadership role.

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It depends on what kind of help is required on your part. Is it teaching new hires how the system works or is it just that you're more experienced and knowledgeable than your colleagues?

In the first case you should have your manager know that some of your time will be dedicated to teaching and thus reduce your load or extend your deadlines.

In the second case it maybe more a case of correct time management. Just be sure that you don't do the work for others and that solutions have been tried before coming to you for help.

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Appointment based scheduling is a tool of managing the chaos. I caution against making it the basis of doing so. Requiring someone to fill out a ticket or schedule time may make perfect sense, but ultimately is somewhat off-putting nonetheless. You’re moving into more of a soft skill role. Try to keep in mind how any action, no matter how reasonable, will be perceived.

The key is to strike a balance between open door and respecting your other responsibilities. When you can reasonably attend to the question when asked, do so. Adding phrases like, “I’ve got a little time,” can gently allude that you can’t always be expected to address whatever is on their mind at the drop of a hat or that they didn’t just get a free ticket to own your next four hours.

On the other side if you don’t have time, don’t be afraid to say, “If this isn’t urgent, can I check in with you later or can you ping me if I haven’t done so by EOD? I’m involved in the middle of something right now.” Something like this starts with acknowledging that priorities matter but also establishes some realization that you still have your “day job”. Also, setting a timeline and inviting them to follow up diffuses the issue if you get caught up and don’t reach out.

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