What is a fidget spinner?

If you’re a parent or a teacher, there’s no doubt you have seen a fidget spinner. It’s a small toy that fits in the palm of your hand and contains 4 skateboard bearings. Simply grasp the spinner by one of its bearings and it’ll spin like a wheel. You can either hold it as it spins or you can place it on a table. It’ll spin and eventually come to a complete stop.

Boundaries and time

Interruptions happen often in life and the workplace is no exception. There were many times where I’d be sitting in my office while I had a few moments to spare in my day to catch up on work and someone would walk in requesting a moment of my time. In other words, an interruption.

As a leader with an open door policy, I encouraged interruptions. I wanted my team to feel like they could reach out to me whenever they needed to. Whether it was to answer a question or simply to say hello, I always strived to be available to my team.

When it comes to leadership and being available to your team, I am a huge proponent of an open door policy and being as available as often. However, it doesn’t mean my time should be taken advantage of. Even with an open door policy, it’s important to set boundaries when it comes to your time.

How do I use a fidget spinner to set boundaries?

As a leader and someone who admittedly faces challenges when it comes to setting boundaries, I am constantly looking for creative ways to help overcome this challenge.

Anytime someone interrupts and asks for a moment of my time, I take the fidget spinner out, give it a nice spin, and set it on my desk. While the person is talking, I let the fidget spinner continue to spin.

If I can address the person’s question or concern before the fidget spinner stops spinning, then it’s an appropriate interruption.

If the question or concern is not an emergency and will continue long after the fidget spinner stops spinning, then that sends a signal to the person that they should put an agenda together and schedule a time for us to discuss in more detail.

Related: How to organize and run productive meetings

Because setting boundaries can be difficult for me as a leader at times, using a fidget spinner tends to lighten things up a bit. By adding humor, my team members now know that if I pull the fidget spinner out, it’s a sign that the interruption is inappropriate. Rather than interrupt out of habit, they’ll quickly learn to respect my time.

What do you do as a leader to creatively set boundaries?