Workforce & Workplace
What’s Your Office Kryptonite?
Gerri Mason Hall
Gerri Mason Hall
Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation
SVP & Chief Human Resources Officer,
Sodexo North America

You might be a superhero at the office, spearheading projects, coming up with great ideas and flying through your to-do lists. But even superheroes have a weakness, something that saps their energy, focus or strength. At the office, these power-reducing habits often begin with good intentions, but they end up wasting time instead of saving it.

With Superman back on movie screens this weekend, let’s take a look at common problems that are kryptonite to even the most super employees.

  1. An addiction to incoming messages. Take a look at any modern business card and you’ll likely find myriad ways to get in touch with its owner. These days employees receive work-related messages in multiple ways: on landlines, company cell phones, work email addresses, internal office chat programs, or even on social networks like LinkedIn. While staying on top of all of these messages is certainly well-intentioned, it can end up draining your energy. If you check every voicemail, text, email or chat message as soon as it arrives, you’ll never have any time for uninterrupted focus, according to U.S. News and World Report.

If your work doesn’t require you to respond to messages immediately, consider turning off notifications from texts, emails and chats — or setting them to download only at designated intervals. If that’s not an option, try carving out an hour during the day for uninterrupted work — you can even change the outgoing message on your email to let people know when you will respond. It will help your productivity in the long-run.

  1. Too many meetings. Going to every meeting you’re invited to can often feel like a good way to keep up with a lot of different workstreams. However, attending too many meetings is a major distraction from getting work done. How do you know which meetings you can skip? Assess each meeting using cost-benefit analysis: “If you earn $25 per hour and take part in a weekly one-hour meeting, it’s costing a company more than $1,000 per year,” Steven Macdonald, marketing director at WorkZone, told Declining invitations to meetings that aren’t necessary to your role won’t just help your productivity, it could help your company’s bottom line, too.
  2. Playing the hero. Ironically, trying to save the day could torpedo your chances of getting anything done at all, according to Inc. If you’re always jumping in to help others when they’re in need, you may end up ignoring your own priorities. “Consider the warning you always get on airplanes that, should the cabin decompress, you should put on your own mask before helping others,” advises Inc. “If you pass out from lack of oxygen, you won’t be of much help.” Before offering to help, be realistic about your workload and energy levels.

Which task or habit is your office kryptonite? Please share your ideas — and solutions for conquering them — in the comments below.

Related Articles:


Gerri Mason Hall is Senior Vice President & Chief Human Resources Officer for Sodexo North America. Sodexo’s 133,000 employees in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico provide more than 100 unique services that improve performance for 9,000 client partners and improve Quality of Life for 15 million consumers every day. 

2 comments on “What’s Your Office Kryptonite?

  • Avatar
    Janyse Madsen says:

    Great article; my kryptonite is my inbox. I’m going to try the recommendation of setting aside an hour a day of uninterrupted work. Thanks!

  • Avatar
    Joanna Kereakes says:

    This is a great article to remind myself to take some time to stop and prioritize what is important at work, but also Quality Of Life….and what this means at home and in the work place. I make an effort to only check email at specific times throughout the day, but remember to communicate that any matters that are urgent warrant a phone call instead of an email. I also set a timer when working through my email, so I can respond to what’s requires immediate attention first and follow up on others as time allows. I find I work faster and more efficiently on getting through my inbox this way.

    I love your message about “putting on my oxygen mask first”, I tend to want to help others before helping myself, but it’s a good reminder to stop and make sure I take care of myself and make that my priority. I will be better for others by doing this.

    Thanks so much!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Your personal data may be processed by Sodexo to deal with your contact request. This personal data is processed based on the legitimate interest of Sodexo of sharing information about its services. This personal data is processed by the authorized individuals in the Sodexo group and may be disclosed to external service providers, including from countries which are not considered as having an adequate level of protection. In the event that external service providers are engaged, contractual arrangements are made to ensure that such service providers comply with the strict privacy rules applicable and put in place appropriate safeguards to ensure an adequate level of protection. In accordance with the applicable law, you can exercise your data protection rights. For more information, please see the Privacy Policy.