Time Management Revelation in Aisle 1

time management checkoutI’m not proud of this blog I’m about to write. In fact, I debated whether I should even share this experience with you because it makes me feel like kind of a jerk, but I have a feeling I’m not the only one who has encountered this situation. This week, I almost let my hectic schedule get in the way of my kindness to other people and I’m making a vow to never let it happen again. Here is what happened…

My Grocery Store Encounter

On my way home from work on Tuesday, I stopped by the grocery store. I had finished a long day of meetings, workshops, and phone calls, and had just picked my daughter up from preschool. I was in a hurry to get home and was irritated that I hadn’t made time to go to the store over the weekend.

Check-out Chatter

As I was searching around in my purse at the check out counter, I suddenly become aware of the fact that the cashier was trying to talk to me. “Mm…looks like you’re making spaghetti for dinner! That was my favorite meal growing up.” He then looked over at my daughter, “What do you think little one?”

Now, here’s where I’m not proud of myself. My immediate thought was: “Oh my goodness, I’m here for some pasta and butter, not a conversation. Every moment you spend making adorable small talk with my 3 month old is a moment you aren’t swiping my credit card so I can get the heck out of here.”

Mean, right? But haven’t we all felt like that sometimes?

Snapping Out Of It

I let my brain go down that train of thought for a moment until a snapped myself out of it. Oh my goodness Emily, who are you? Is your schedule really so tight that you can’t allow five seconds to smile at someone being a kind person? To engage in some small talk with a stranger?

We are not so busy that we can’t at least smile at the people we meet during the day. And if your schedule is such that you don’t have a moment for these interactions, then you have some adjusting to do.

I vow that I will be much better at taking a breath and not rushing through every transaction and conversation in my life. I’m not that busy, and I don’t want to be.

Connect with The Time Diet for more time management tips

Why Office Hours Aren’t Just For Professors

time management office hoursOffice Hours: you know, that thing you swore you’d attend in college but never really did. Professors have office hours to give students a chance to get a hold of them outside of class. How do YOU communicate to your colleagues when you’re available for questions? Why not try this…

One of my favorite things about running time management workshops is that I always learn something in the process. This week I spoke to NHS Phoenix and had a blast meeting some truly fabulous people. One man shared that he puts his availability in his email signature. For example: “I return phone calls between the hours of 2 and 4pm” or “I return emails three times a day, at 8, 12, and 3.”

I love this concept because it gives people a reasonable expectation when they can expect to hear from you, so they don’t get upset with their communication isn’t immediately returned.

If having regular hours like this doesn’t work for you, maybe giving a broad time frame would work better. For example, “I try my best to return all communications within 24 hours.” While that might seem obvious (of course we want to be prompt with our communications) it reminds people that they can’t really be upset if they haven’t heard back from you 20 minutes later.

So what are your “office hours?” Remember, people need to get a hold of you, and if you haven’t conveyed when communication is convenient to you, people will be left to guess or assume, and you know that they say about assumptions.

Connect with The Time Diet for more time management tips

Is Poor Communication Harming Your Time Management?

Time Management CommunicationTell 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.

Connect with The Time Diet for even more time management tips