I am very clear - time is the most valuable asset I have. Why then are people so careless with it? We’ve had a couple of experiences of late where people have not respected the time we have afforded them. In one instance - today in fact - I had a phone conference scheduled at 9.30 a.m. When the client hadn’t phoned in by 9.40 a.m. I moved on to other things. They phoned at 9.55 a.m., some 25 minutes after the agreed time.

Another instance was another member of our team had a meeting scheduled in a fairly remote location. It was a considerable drive to get to the meeting, and the person the meeting was with was aware of the travel. When our team member arrived she was informed that the person she was to meet had double booked - and was promptly handed a brochure to read for 45 minutes!

Why is it that we take our own time and the time of others for granted? And how can we go about managing our time better?

Why are we so careless with time?

DLPA_online_ads_time_management_2.jpgI am religiously appointment-based. I make appointments with myself for everything from lunch to doing my tax. When I make appointments with other people I make sure that I am on time and prepared for the subject matter. And I require people to make appointments with me for any direct (as in not email based) interaction. I understand some people see this as overly anal - however with everyone so constantly complaining about how busy they are, why in the world would you approach time allocation any other way?

And what does it say about us as a society, that we are willing to make appointments, but then see it as a rough guideline? Where else is this lack of discipline and respect presenting itself in how we interact with each other? How much easier could life really be if we treated our schedule as a series of deadlines, and treated other people’s time as if it mattered as much as our own?

That’s the whinge. Now for practical tips to get the most out of your day!

1. Have a clear schedule and agenda for the day

To be clear, the schedule is the time allocation, the agenda is the items to be resolved. Be clear at the start of the day what you have to get done and when, and stick to it

2. Allow time for the changeover

Changeover is a production turn of phrase. It refers to the time it takes to move something being assembled from one station to the next. This is technically unproductive time, however is completely necessary for the process to work. Make sure that you schedule changeover time into your diary. There is no excuse for being late to a meeting because you had to get a drink, go to the bathroom, grab a new notebook or put things away from your previous meeting. These are changeover tasks and should be factored into your schedule.

3. Communicate, communicate, communicate

If you are running late - and things do happen from time to time - communicate to relevant parties that you will be late as soon as possible. For example, if you are 15 minutes late at 10 a.m. let your 1p.m. know that that is the case. Sometimes you can pull the time back, but more often it is a slippery descent and you need to let people know. They will be grateful for you respecting the value of their time.

4. Treat time like a currency

Just as you budget your household income and expenses, so too you should budget your time. You can do this through various tools - such as a schedule - however this is meaningless if you do not truly treat time as a currency. Would you be as careless with $50 as you would be with an hour of time on Facebook? For most of us the answer is no. You would expect some form of return or value for your $50. So too you should expect value or return from every moment of time in your day.

For more information on how to effectively manage your time, and become a productivity powerhouse, download our free e-book here.

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Dynamic Leadership Programs Australia (DLPA) is a bespoke leadership and business development program provider that drives strategic objectives and unlocks the potential of current and emerging leaders.

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