Time Management Expert, Event Speaker: Mark Lamendola

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Time Tips: Keeping Others from Wasting Your Time Tip #5

In my time management seminars, I talk about the fact that you can't manage time in a vacuum. We all interact with others. We can choose to interact efficiently or inefficiently. Many people falsely assume efficient interaction is rude. Quite the opposite. The more you respect other people's time, the more they will feel appreciated.

If you are finding yourself pressed for time, you can probably identify one or two people who seem to "suck up" your time. Maybe you are frequently on the phone with a particular friend for an hour, or maybe your boss or coworker likes to stop by your office and chat with you for half an hour each day.

Do you start telling these people you don't have time to talk with them anymore? No, you can't bring yourself to do that. Saying such a thing may convey the message you don't like that person. So, what can you do? You actually have many options. I'll provide some here, and you can think up more just by determining the principle behind each of these:

  • Put the time restriction in a positive light. You can say, "It's really great talking to you, but I'm going to have to cut this short." Most people remember that first part long after you've said the second part.
  • Be an advocate of that person's time. Sure, you feel like your time is evaporating, due to those discussions. But, maybe the other person feels the same way. Your boss, for example, sees a positive response from those half-hour chats so assumes you need those chats. But you can say, "I appreciate that you take so much time from your busy schedule to talk to me. Don't feel obligated to humor, me though. If you've got other things to do, just let me know." Notice the hidden messages, here.
  • Reschedule. You may need to do this for the frequent caller or the person who decides to take up squatting rights in your office. Give that person a positive comment on something s/he said, then say you're out of time and ask something like, "Can you call me next week so we can continue this conversation?"
  • Simply end it. "Well, it's getting late here" is often effective. So is, "This has been a great conversation, but I have to go now." If all else fails, "I have to pee" works every time.

Other related tips for managing how others affect your time include how to prevent phone tag, how to properly decline invitations to endless meetings, how to get others to focus on the issue at hand, and how to handle various forms of communication (including e-mail).



Do you want to radically improve how well people in your organization make use of the limited number of hours in each work day?

Contact me to arrange a time when we can talk about a presentation: mark@mindconnection.com. Why arrange a time? So I can give you full attention during the call. There's a really powerful time management tip. Ask me why it works.