Why Do We Let People Steal Our Time?

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!

Block Your Time

As part of my daily prep, checking my calendar is one of the most important tasks.  After all, most of us live by our calendars to schedule our time.
One of the most important tasks I do is to “Block Time” on my calendar.  I usually do this at the beginning of each week.
What is Blocking Time?  Well, it is simply scheduling time for your activities.  You have probably heard of “scheduling a meeting with yourself” and Blocking Time is just that, taken to the next level.
If your job/company utilizes Outlook, then Blocking Time can become a critical task.  At my company, death by meeting…. via Outlook is not uncommon.  People seem to have no qualm about scheduling your time for a last minute meeting because they did not do something on schedule.  Worse yet, many of these meetings have no clear objective or agenda.
So, what is a Time Management Ninja to do?  Schedule his own meetings, of course.  Lots of them.  🙂
The first week I did this, it was a bit scary.  I scheduled about half of my time on my Outlook calendar.  I labeled each of these meetings “Block Time.”  Then I went and put in each block a task that I had to get done.
Amazingly, I was more productive that week than I had been in a long time.  Instead or running around to all kinds of meetings, I actually sat down and did my work.
Blocking Time accomplished a few things:
  • Prevented myself from being invited to last minute meetings
  • Allowed me time to get my obligations done
  • Prevented people from stealing my time
A few other Ninja tips:
  • Block Time for personal tasks too.  Even something as simple as running an errand.
  • One Calendar – Use only one calendar.  You can use different colors/buckets for Work/Life, but one calendar ensures that your obligations do not go overlooked.
  • Be ruthless! – I regularly schedule 60-70% of my time.  Some people think this sounds extreme.  I ask, “Do you want to choose what you do with your time?  Or let others?”