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.

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Time Management Karma

No doubt you heard about the “golden rule” while growing up: treat others as you would like to be treated. MaybImagee you didn’t realize that it also applies to time management.

Treat other people’s time as you want your time to be treated.

I’m not saying you should always put the needs of others before your own, but it is all too easy to always put them last, and that just isn’t fair.

For example, have you ever been working on a project and had to stop because you needed one little piece of information from someone else? You send out an email or make a phone call and leave a message. Then you wait…and wait…and wait. You know that an answer will take about 30 seconds of that person’s time, but waiting for that 30-second answer is putting you days behind on your work.

Or what about this: Have you ever planned your day around meeting a friend or a colleague, only to have them cancel at the last minute for something they surely new about ahead of time?

These are examples of other people interfering with our carefully managed time. It’s easy to get angry, impatient and frustrated but sometimes we need to take a long, hard look in the mirror and ask ourselves, “Am I treating other people’s time the way I want mine to be treated?”

Mistakes happen, people get busy, emails get buried and appointments get double booked.  The key is to apologize and then don’t make it a habit. People want the importance of their time to be acknowledged. Think twice before you make a last-minute cancellation or move your colleague’s email request into the “do it later” pile.

If you respect other people’s time, you may find that yours is respected as well.

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