Do you find yourself sitting with the awful feeling that your time is being wasted? Do you ever think to yourself, people just don't seem to value my time!? Are people chronically making multiple asks of you that you feel won't benefit your goals or deliverables?
Time is your greatest currency but it's also a non-renewable resource. According to time management and productivity expert Neen James, if you want others to realize and value your time, you need to become more conscious of how you spend it.
"Time is a great equalizer [we all have the same number of minutes in a day] but once it’s spent, you never get it back. So we want to be conscious of how we ask others to spend their time with us," explains Neen.
Neen would argue that in order to get others to value your time, you need to value their time. (She once said, "Email is a request from someone else for your time to achieve their goals." Ain't that the truth!) But another effective strategy is to ensure you "talk time."
We're not talking about telling anyone who will listen how busy you are; we're talking about using precise language that communicates to others that you see time as a precious resource.
Afraid of coming off haughty or too-busy-to-talk? When done with grace, the outcome will actually have the opposite effect. Neen explains: "The beauty of talking time is you increase the awareness for yourself but you help the other person understand you really value time. Be it on email, in-person or on a call, wherever you can, talk time."
Neen's real strategies for defending your time:
Setting meetings and appointments:
- Book-end you appointments so you have a genuine excuse to wrap up - and a reason to be efficient.
- When you arrive at a meeting, sneakily remind the other person how much time you have by saying, "I understand we have 15 minutes together, is that still correct?"
- Always, always set an agenda
"In talking time, I’d also encourage you to think about how can you reduce the time it takes to perform the activities you do," says Neen. "I love to keep my meetings really, really short. I do that to honour other people’s time."
- Challenge the length of time you schedule meetings for. Could your weekly 30-minute team meeting be completed in 15 or 20?
- How long do you typically set appointments for? Are you making the decision on auto-pilot? If you typically schedule one-hour appointments with people, can it become 45?
How to wrap up a dragging call
It's the all-too-familiar feeling of being held hostage on a phone or conference call by (hopefully) a well-intended speaker who has strayed too far from the agenda. Here are two things you can say to wrap up the call:
- “In the 7 minutes we have left, let’s agree on what our next steps are.”
- "In the 3 minutes we have left, let’s recap what we’ve discussed."
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