Is Your Time Management Too Rude?

Does your time management upset people?

Do people think you are rude because you defend your time?

A concern I sometimes hear is that if people take a hard stance with their time, that others will consider their actions rude.

After all, wasting time, being late, and missing deadlines are the norm.  If you go against the grain, people can get upset.

Does your time management make you rude?

It’s Normal to Be Late

Consider these 3 happenings:

– A co-worker sends out meeting changes within 5 minutes of a meeting starting.

– An executive shows up 20 minutes late to a strategic presentation.

– A meeting starts 10 minutes late, only to re-start at the halfway point due to a late arrival.

It seems that if you are not late, that you are not normal.

These days our society’s norms are:

People Are Consistently Late – Meetings and events almost always start late.  (Even the President was 5 minutes late to the State of the Union the other night!)

Late fees – Some companies make large portions of their revenue from late or last minute charges.

Acceptable to Miss Deadlines – Deadlines are expected to be missed or extended.

So, what happens when you do vigorously defend your time?  It can cause you to being thought of as inconsiderate, or worse, rude.

Is Your Time Management Rude?

I recently declined a meeting.  One of my workers said that it was rude of me to do so.

It turns out that this meeting was scheduled at the last minute.  It had no agenda.  And the materials were sent out 20 minutes before the meeting time.

Rude of me to do what? Be productive?

Here are just some of the ways you might be rude with your time management:

  • You Start Meetings on Time – How rude! Why aren’t you waiting for the stragglers and people coming back from their extended lunch?  A friend related that she recently attended a meeting that was scheduled for 1PM.  At 117PM they were still saying, “We’ll wait just a few more minutes to see if anyone else joins us.”  Really?
  • You End Meetings on Time – How dare you cut off the endless monologuing! We still want to talk about unrelated topics!
  • You Close Your Office Door – You can’t do that! It’s against our open door policy! How dare you close your door and actually work!
  • You Book Time on Your Calendar With Yourself – You are all booked today! You can’t work on your work, I want to talk to you about mine!
  • You Don’t Incessantly Check Your Email – What do you mean you didn’t get my email? I sent it 10 minutes ago! Aren’t you sitting at your desk constantly monitoring your email?
  • You Don’t Answer Your Phone – I called and texted you! Why didn’t you answer immediately?
  • You Prevent Interruptions – What do you mean I can’t interrupt you any time I want?
  • You Say No – I asked you to take on that project that is clearly mine.  But, I don’t want to do it. Why won’t you?

Any of these sound familiar in your workplace?

How to Avoid Rudeness

Sometimes the best time management intentions can be misunderstood.

While we want to maximize our time and productivity, we don’t want to do it at the expense of our relationships.

Here are a few tips to help minimize your time management being perceived as rude:

  1. Set Expectations – To prevent people from being upset with your actions, it is important to set expectations in advance.  (Email, phone, etc.) If people know that you only check your email morning, noon, and end of day, then they know to reach out to you if they have something urgent.
  2. Be Consistent – Consistency leads to standards.  For example, if you start meetings on time, no matter who is there, people will start to get the point.
  3. Be Realistic – As strict as you may want to be with your time management, you have to be flexible. Being too rigid will only cause friction. While you want to manage your time, you have to understand that others will not always do the same. Plan for it.
  4. Don’t Let Things Slip – Reliability breeds trust.  If your team knows that you respond to them in a timely manner, and that todos will not be forgotten, they will be patient.
  5. Policies in Effect – Beyond expectations, if needed, ensure that your workplace has set policies on certain activities.  Maybe put a quiet period into effect each week for a specific work period.  Clarify your workplace’s open door policy.  Or perhaps, put a “communication agreement” in place.

Politely Defending Your Time

Don’t rub people the wrong way when practicing your time management.

Sometimes your best productivity efforts can be misunderstood.

With a little foresight, you can prevent misconceptions from occurring.

Let’s viciously defend our time, but let’s not be rude about it!

Does your time management make you rude?

5 thoughts on “Is Your Time Management Too Rude?

  1. Hi Craig, this is a great post, really.
    People who are serious about time management, sooner or later, WILL face friction with their co-workers, and this is particularly true while working in a team.
    For example, sales people are among those who benefit more from time management practices: they usually have a higher degree of independence, because their compensation is strongly connected with results and companies don’t care very much about how results come.
    Those who on the contrary are forced to follow the rules (the system of rules often related to as the “company culture”) need to find the way to HACK the system.
    The outcome is not guaranteed, and this is a huge problem.
    A personal story. I once tried adding a simple line at the end of my email sig. (something like: I check my inbox and reply to emails at 10 AM and at 4 PM), only to be told by my boss at the time: “I understand why you added that text, but it’s against the company rules, so I invite you to cut it”.
    Setting expectations is the hardest part. But in my opinion being rude while preserving our correct time management habits is better than kindly throwing our time out of the window!

    1. @marcoricci Good points, Marco!
      And good story… at least the boss involved was nice about it. 🙂
      Speaking of communications and setting expectations… writing a piece about just that. What is (and should be) acceptable communications in the workplace?
      Watch for it soon!

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