We live in dangerous times. Everywhere we go, someone is lurking and threatening to waste our time. You know the type I’m talking about all too well. They’re incessantly calling and leaving longwinded voice mails. They’re yammering on and on about their problems during your most vital 9-5 time slot. They’re scheduling personal training time with you and blowing you off at the last minute. They’re forwarding chain emails to your account almost daily. They’re dropping into your office to shoot the shit. These insidious pests may not even realize they’re cutting into your productivity and driving you bonkers at all. That’s because you’ve failed to set boundaries and communicate them to everyone you come into regular contact with.
In this business, TIME IS MONEY! Never forget that. Every minute you give away to someone else, better be a minute well-spent. When you look at your paycheck, it should reflect hard work, superb time management and your maximum potential. When you make a list of tasks you want to complete each day, everything should be checked off before you go home. When you look at your client roster, it should be full each and every week or your time is not being well-spent.
This is not to say you need to be an absolute dick about it. When someone comes to say hello, you shouldn’t physically push them out of your office and scold them with a “Time is money, time is money, be on your way, goodbye.” Nor should you purposefully avoid all phone calls and emails because a suspected time waster is on the other end. You shouldn’t avoid time with your family and friends altogether – but rather, you should mindfully schedule it.
So what can you do to fiercely defend your productivity and your time?
- Set aside a block of time for yourself in your schedule. If you don’t make time for the things you enjoy, then you’ll find yourself starting to resent others for robbing time away from you. There’s got to be time for you t schedule your fitness time, dinner with your family, a quiet afternoon to read, or an hour to have coffee and watch the sun rise.
- Just say “NO,” for crying out loud! In our attempt to please everyone, we often take on more than we can feasibly handle. Know when your schedule is jam-packed. Know what days you can offer up a little bit of flexibility and which days there is to be absolutely no leeway.
- Clarify your terms of communication. When people don’t know what to expect, they panic. They become insatiable micromanagers who never cease picking at your every waking moment. “When? When? When?” they want to know. When you get an email, take 30 seconds to write “Will get back to you by the end of the day.” When you get a call, curtly say, “I’ll call you on my lunch.” Let people know when they can expect your response and you’ll find they stop interrupting you.
- Don’t let people get too cushy. When people call you, quickly ask, “Hi, how may I help you?” This cuts through the chit-chat and gets right to the point. When people come into your office, get up to greet them, without letting them sit down to get comfortable. When it’s time to go, start moving. They can follow you on your way out the door to finish the conversation if need be.
Ordinary people think of spending time. Great people think of using it.