Thought of the day: Why do we let people steal our time?
We get pretty upset when people steal our money… so why do we turn a blind eye when people steal our time?
In fact, it is a pretty common occurrence for co-workers, bosses, even friends to steal our valuable time.
“Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.”– Ben Franklin
Time is our life. And you cannot get it back. Yet, our society has become desensitized to people monopolizing, interrupting, and simply taking our time.
In the workplace, this is rampant. From meetings that are 4x the length they need to be…to meetings that were unneccesary in the first place. People do not even think twice about taking our time.
The worst are the “Outlook Outlaws” who mercilessly schedule meetings on people’s calendars without notice or consideration to their time. These types are constantly calling meetings so that they can get people together. Perhaps, it is a power trip to make them feel important, or maybe it is done instead of them taking an active role to seek out information. (ie doing work!)
Too often we find that we are scheduled for so many extraneous meetings, that we do not leave any time to get our real work done!
How dare you!
Apparently it is forbidden you try to protect your time or even take it back. People get upset if you dare to decline a meeting or say leave work at an unprescribed time.
People will even label you as difficult or obstructive if you will not abide by their time demands.
Protecting your time
Here are some strategies for defending your time against the time thieves…
- Stop answering the phone – In my previous post “Stop answering the phone,” I discussed the fact that the phone is there for your convenience. Do not jump every time someone decides they want to buzz you! Otherwise people will steal your time when it is most inconvenient.
- Block your time – This is a very powerful strategy for reclaiming your time, both work and personal. Try “Blocking your time” by scheduling yourself for time periods that you need to keep for yourself or projects or whatever. Ironically, it is socially unacceptable to say to a co-worker, “I cannot meet with you because I have something more important to do,” but it is ok to say, “I have another meeting at that time.” You don’t need to reveal that the appointment is with yourself.
- Avoid those who waste your time – Many people believe it is important not hang out with toxic people. This needs to include those who waste your time. You will find that a specific subset of people are responsible for the majority of time-wasting. Avoid associating yourself with them or you will find yourself hanging out for two hours to discuss last nights TV shows.
- Set Expectations – If you set expectations that your time is valuable, then other people will start to value it also. Your behavior will actually train your co-workers as to what is acceptable by example.
- Walk the Talk – Of course, this goes without saying… Practice what you preach. If you want people to respect your time, make sure you are respecting theirs.
What are you best stories of people who waste your time? Or best strategies for protecting your time? Please share your best in the comments.