10 Ways You’re Wasting Other People’s Time

Wasting Others Time

We like to defend our time.

And we get bothered when other people steal our time.

But, there are two sides to every situation.

Have you considered how you may be wasting others’ time?

Wasting Other People’s Time

You don’t like it when people waste your time.

However, sometimes you are probably just as guilty of wasting theirs.

If you want people to respect your time, then treat theirs as if it were your own.

It comes down to mutual respect.

Not wasting other people’s time means treating their time as you would expect yours be treated.

Do you respect others’ time?

Or are you guilty of some of these…?

Here are 10 Ways That You Are Wasting Other People’s Time:

  1. Calling When It Should Be an Email – The modern cellphone is a technology marvel. Yet, being reachable anywhere and anytime has its limits. Ringing someone’s phone is interrupting them. Don’t ring that bell unless it is that important. Instead, consider an email or other form of communication that can be addressed at the appropriate time. 
  2. Interrupting – Where else are you interrupting? If someone is working with their door shut or with headphones on, it probably isn’t the right time to interrupt their productivity.
  3. Not Respecting Time Boundaries – I recently had a colleague text me at 4:22AM. That same day he called me at 10:42PM. I am not sure what he had going on that day, but those two times were outside of my “time boundaries.”
  4. Not Doing What You Say – Broken promises affect not just your productivity but those counting on you to deliver. Bosses can destroy the productivity of entire teams by their lack of follow-through.
  5. Spamming Them – Don’t abuse others with your email. If you are spamming others instead of doing work, then you are part of the problem. (Start here and here.)
  6. Not Answering Messages – If you don’t respond to others you may be the communication bottleneck in the system. I know some leaders who are excellent in person, but they fail to answer any of their email or other messages.
  7. Creating Fire Drills – Do you create last-minute urgencies due to your disorganization? It isn’t fair when your lack of action creates fire drills for others. Of course, if you are the one that constantly creates the fire drill, people eventually stop listening.
  8. Knocking Twice – If you have sent someone an email, you don’t need to call them to see if they got it. Or if you have called one of their phones, you don’t need to ring all the others. They are probably busy. Resist the urge to “knock twice.
  9. Not Being Prepared for Meetings– Do you show up to meetings unprepared? If you are not ready to discuss the issue at hand, then the session turns into a social gathering or a joint reading session.
  10. Being Late – Nothing disrespecting another person’s time like being late. At a recent, business launch, the leader was 1.5 hours late. The entire launch team sat around for 90 minutes waiting on the boss.

Respecting Other People’s Time

Be protective of your time while also respecting that of others.

Treat other people’s time as you want yours treated.

And of course, ask that they do they same for your time.

Question: Where are you guilty of wasting others’ time?

20 thoughts on “10 Ways You’re Wasting Other People’s Time

  1. Hmmm.. No 10, being late should be at the top and not last. Being prepared for meetings a close second. But as for the rest, I think you’re overthinking the issue and putting way too much responsibility on other people to know what you want/like. If it bothers you to receive text messages outside your time bounderies for example, well, it’s up to you to ask the culprit to stop if you feel that strongly about it. From their point of view, they might not think the same way and it wouldn’t occur to them to think they’re offending. The same with receiving a call instead of an email (which is also an avoidance tactic).

    1. Agreed… it’s not an ordered list.

      As for the text/calls outside my time boundaries… that is what iPhone’s “Do Not Disturb” settings are for. 😉

  2. I so need to print that list out as a reminder! The common thread (besides the core issue of selfishness) is the absence of “etiquette,” truly a lost art in the 21st century.

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  4. I prefer to use text messages or Whatsapp instead of calling because I hate people calling me when I’m in the middle to completing a task.

  5. I think you’re missing the gulf of intrusion that IM/text can fill. Phone – interrupting, Email – non-interrupting but may be ignored. IM – Can let people know you’re available and low level of message traffic can be passed back and forth. Text – for short queries that are less critical than a phone call but much more than an email. Number 6 & 8 are tied. If you’re the non-answering email type, you MAKE people become the knock twice kind. You get what you expect, but you also breed the wrong kind of person in others through your lack of responsiveness.

    1. Hey, Ken! Great to see you. 🙂

      Great points about texting. It can kind of fall in between calls and email. The issue that comes up with texting is… how immediate of a response do you expect? For some, texting is immediate and they expect an immediate response. Then again, I may not respond to a text if I am in the middle of something or in a conversation.

      (On a separate note… love my Pebble watch for screening texts. See here: http://timemanagementninja.com/2013/02/productivity-review-of-the-pebble-smartwatch/ )

  6. It’s amazing how much time is wasted. One of my hates is people that have to include the world in their emails and meetings as they flap about trying to get someone else to make decisions for them.

  7. Knocking Twice doesn’t need to be confused with follow-up calls, as the latter is really essential in the world of great spam filters and email overload. I also need to say that knocking twice is important if a person does not respond for quite a while and it seems like someone has forgotten about their promise (see 4)

    1. Lana, agree follow-up is good.

      I was referring to those that send an email and then immediately send a text saying, “I sent you an email.” 😉

    2. While I agree with Knocking Twice, I think that some people do this because because they are either “old school” or an older generation. My mom and aunt don’t believe in leaving a voice message and then leave it at that. My aunt called my cell phone twice in 20 minutes just to ask if I could bring a dish to dinner two weeks from when she called. Really?? My My aunt assumed that because she had my cell phone number that she could call me and I would automatically be available. She would get mad or have a tone in her voice when I would call her back. I have had to tell her probably 20 times that my cell phone is for my convenience, not other people’s convenience. I think that it’s a reasonable request. Other people who don’t respect the rule are pushy, demanding and manipulative.

  8. Calling when it should be an email? No.

    What wastes my time is individuals and businesses that insist upon a days-long exchange of multiple emails when the whole thing could have been sorted out and finished in one ten-minute phone call.

    I do business with people and businesses that answer their phones.

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