Tell me if this sounds familiar: Someone asks you for a “tiny” favor that ends up taking three hours of your time. You change your whole schedule around and bend over backwards to finish the task, only to be told later that it wasn’t really that important. This leaves you feeling angry, unappreciated, and overwhelmed with the tasks that are now still left on your plate. Improving your time management communication can help avoid the wasted time and resentment that occur as a result of these misunderstandings. Try these three tips to strengthen your communication:
1. Don’t “Cry Wolf”
If you frequently ask people for help and then forget about the task and lose interest, when the time comes that you truly do need assistance with something important, you’ll find that there is no trusting person left to help you. When you delegate a task or agree to help someone, make sure you are both on the same page with the task’s level of importance. Is this an urgent priority? Is it more of an idea than a directive? Taking the time to communicate these details lessens the chance of someone feeling taken advantage of.
2. Take a Look at Someone Else’s To-Do List
Just as you gain perspective by “walking a mile in someone’s shoes,” you also learn a lot about the responsibilities on their plate by looking at a month from their calendar. When people are great at their job, they may make it all look easy. We might try to heap more tasks on their plate because we don’t realize how much work they already do. Look at other people’s to-do lists. Talk to them about what they do and what their struggles are. It’s important to understand the unique pressures of our friends’, family members’, and coworkers’ lives so we don’t expect an unreasonable amount of work from them.
3. Practice Good Time Management Karma
Treat other people’s time the way you would want your time to be treated. Do not make a habit of showing up late. If you must be late, apologize. Make time in your day to complete tasks that will help people reach their number one priority, even if it’s not also your first priority. When we make an effort to respect other people’s time, they are also likely to respect ours and everyone ends up more productive and more appreciated.
Time management is not always a solo endeavor. We rely on others to help us out, cheer us on, and hold us accountable. Clearly communicating our schedules and priorities is essential to making sure everyone is on the same productivity page.