Squeaky Wheel Syndrome

6 August 2015

The art of multi-tasking is one that I have yet to master. Oh, you can be sure that I try, and I even can manage multiple tasks simultaneously, but it ain’t pretty, and I’m no master. In my busiest times, I suffer from Squeaky Wheel Syndrome. I’ll explain.

There are plenty of resources and self-help guides that promote good time management tips and techniques. I’ve read many of them, and they all make sense at the time. They are all versions of techniques for scheduling, prioritizing, or budgeting. I can never seem to quite maintain them for any length of time, even if I dedicate myself to following them. Something breaks down. Quickly.

For a person living with Squeaky Wheel Syndrome, the challenge is to make the scheduling/prioritizing/budgeting scheme take priority over anything else that comes along. It’s easy to say, “No checking/answering emails until after 3pm”, and I have friends who live this way, but I always cave. I developed a reputation as a quick responder, and I get strokes for that, so not responding to email until after 3pm would require setting new expectations with my business relationships, and for myself.

I am prone to responding to the Squeaky Wheels in my world. The person who squeaks more loudly at any given time gets my attention: I admit that. We all grew up with the adage, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease,” which, I suppose, encourages us to be squeakers if we want attention or a response. It doesn’t offer much help to the responder, however.

Is it effective to manage tasks when you have Squeaky Wheel Syndrome? I’ve learned to accommodate this deficiency. I make good use of sticky notes and my wall white board to write notes-to-self about things that will need attention after I’m done with the squeakers. I’ve shaped my team’s behavior – sometimes unknowingly – so that they give me “nudges” if they’re waiting for a reply on something.

Squeaky wheels do get the grease, so if your method of multi-tasking follows the principles of Squeaky Wheel Syndrome, you can in fact stay on top of things.


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