We all have experienced frustrating situations where unexpected requests from co-workers prevent us from getting an important task done. We don’t want to be impolite and just turn our valued co-workers away with “leave me alone” attitude, and we also have to keep in mind the future situations where you would need them.

So what can you do in these situations to set boundaries so you don’t feel like your time to be disrespected?

One very simple, but also very effective system, is to block out parts of your calendar, where you look for times that you can’t meet or don’t want interactions.

The goal is to set space on your schedule, so others will see you as busy and unavailable to them. If you get a meeting request within that time frame, just suggest an alternative time, and if you don’t have authority to reschedule the meeting, you’ll need to make a  – sometimes tough – decision and remind yourself that it is probably not essential for you to attend. Not because you don’t want to meet or interact with your co-workers, but because you know that during this specific time you have to get that important task done. In general: be available when you are needed and try not to be needed when you are not available!

We are the sports practice of global advisory firm Burson Cohn & Wolfe. We provide strategy and communication advice for sports clients around the world. For more information: www.bcw-sport.com