7 Ways You Are Over Promising Your Time

Overpromise Time

“I’ll be there in just a minute.”

So, you say.

Yet, several hours later, you end up apologizing, “Sorry, I got stuck finishing something up.”

Are you over promising time that you can’t deliver?

Underestimating and Over Promising

We don’t intend to mislead or misrepresent, yet we know deep down that we all tell little white time management lies.

Here are a few examples:

  • “I’ll be right there.”
  • “It will just take me a minute.”
  • “I’ll get back to you today.”
  • “I’m leaving the office in 5 minutes.”
  • “Give me just a second.”
  • “This task will be done in just a few.”

There is no way we will deliver on many of these statements.

“We tend to underestimate the time we need, and over promise the time we have.” (Tweet this Quote)

We think it will take just a few minutes.

And that we can have it done in just a second.

Both of those sentiments are overly optimistic.

Here Are 7 Ways You Are Over Promising Your Time:

  1. Underestimating the Time to Complete a Task – “Give me just a second” is far from the truth. Tasks end up taking much longer than we expect, especially when performing them for the first time.
  2. Back-to-back Meetings – When you schedule back-to-back meetings, you are almost guaranteeing that you will be late to your subsequent appointments. Stack a few of these together and by mid-afternoon you’ll find yourself almost an hour late to your next meeting.
  3. Deadlines Not Taken Seriously – Why do you agree to deadlines that you don’t intend to hit? Deadlines should always be taken seriously. Otherwise, you end up letting both sides down.
  4. Forgetting What You Promised to Deliver – “I’ll call you back today.” But, then your time gets away from you. The next day, you apologetically say that you ran out of time. The truth is that in the rush of your activities you forgot what you promised. Write even those small tasks down so that you remember them.
  5. Double or Triple Booking – Does your appointment calendar looks like a Tetris game board? Worse than back-to-back meetings, you are booking yourself to be in two or three places at the same time. I see this often with corporate managers. However, this practice quickly leads to broken time promises and let down partners.
  6. Making Promises You Can’t KeepStop saying what you can’t or don’t intend to do. Instead of making empty promises that you will “catch up with someone later,” be honest and say that you currently don’t have any time to give.
  7. Giving Time When You Don’t Have Any – Someone asks, “Can I have a minute?” You agree even though you are in the middle of something or supposed to be somewhere. You can’t give them your full attention because it is somewhere else. It is better to reschedule when you can be fully present.

Under Promise Your Time

Before you make time promises that you can’t keep, stop and reconsider.

Today, try under promising your time.

Those you work with will appreciate the honesty, and you can stop worrying about under delivering.

Question: Where are you over promising your time? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

7 thoughts on “7 Ways You Are Over Promising Your Time

  1. Too true. We humans have unrealistic expectations for ourselves about what we’ll remember to do, or what we’ll have time to do. A rule that I unofficially adopted a few months ago is that I never make a commitment without actually entering the commitment into some kind of system that I know I’ll review later. It keeps me honest: I’m more hesitant to commit, and I’m more serious about the things I do commit to.

  2. One of the reasons I use to over promise my time was i never wanted to disappoint or let anyone down. I’ve made peace that I can’t do everything or please everyone. Given a choice I now only commit to one meeting a day

  3. Craig, I love this. I think I’m over promising in writing right now by taking on too many projects. I need to focus on just one or two things and that’s it.

    No more lists that look like they should be sent to Santa 🙂

  4. There are an infinite amount of tasks to do with our time and the projects could also be endless at some days. Implementing some time management techniques, will definitely help us to manage our time effectively.

    But some people might find that they are not getting the results they are expecting to. One of my friend have been using Replicon software ( http://www.replicon.com/olp/online-time-recording-software.aspx ) to manage his schedule both at office and home.

  5. Great tips, Craig! I learned early in my career that if I knocked on someone’s office door and said something specific like “Can I have 3 and a half minutes of your time?” or “I have a question: do you have 48 seconds?” they were more likely to say yes than if I said something generic like “Got a minute?” or “Got a sec?”. Of course, then you have to ask your question in 3.5 minutes (or they won’t trust you next time). Now I find myself texting people and asking “Can I give you a quick call – I need 6 minutes”. Once they know that they can trust that you will only take that amount of time – they are a lot more likely to give you their time. When you respect others time, they tend to be more likely to give it.

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