"Respect My Time"
Your Success Thought for the Week of December 12, 2007

This past week I heard from many of you regarding the detractors to your living in-the-moment. The top hindrance, drum rolls please: unplanned meetings with colleagues taking up time, space and concentration.

Studies show that it takes at least twenty minutes to return to the same level of concentration you had prior to someone pulling you away to focus on their immediate challenge. Some of you tell me that you spend entire days getting back to task after such disruptions.

Did this person meant to create havoc with your day? Likely not. They were simply more focused on their needs than respecting your time. Before you know it, a 'quick question' becomes a twenty-minute discussion. One cannot afford many of these dialogues in a day that is already overloaded.

By now ,you have mastered the art of setting time boundaries with subordinates or close co-workers. These respectful boundaries may look like this: "I have three minutes to spare. Can we cover your request in this time frame?" "Is this a one-minute or five- minute conversation?" "Can you please bottom line your request?" "I'm sorry but I truly do not have a minute available for you right now; can we schedule time?"

The challenge comes when someone of more authority than you demands unscheduled time that you do not have. For example:

  • A board member, retired from his profession, has a little too much time to focus on yours. He calls to hash out last night's topic privately with you. You know that these calls are typically 40 minutes in duration, yet you cannot even spare ten.
  • Your partner calls you twenty times a day to check in and you feel obligated to take her call irrespective of where you are or who you're with. You feel trapped.

We overlook these interruptions daily in the name of doing our job, yet they create havoc with our productivity and stress level. In You Staying Young, authors Dr. Michael F. Roizen and Dr. Mehmet C. Oz call these stressors 'major agers' (meaning that the stress ages you prematurely) but what do you do? The following four keys have proven to be winners with my executive clients.

  1. Be honest with yourself. You are a highly productive, busy individual with an important job to do. Do unscheduled, distracting conversations benefit your organization or do they keep you from doing your job to the best of your ability? Sure, some are necessary but likely 80% are not. Look back at your day to see where the time stressors occurred and what results they produced. Take small yet immediate steps to set boundaries that will shift the actions of others.

  2. Be honest with the other person. I've spent hours strategizing with my executives how to set uncomfortable boundaries with individuals whom they respect. It all boils down to the simple truth. It may look like this: "I respect and value you. Don't you agree that our discussions are too important to have happen spur-of-the-moment like this. Let's set up a series of scheduled 20-30 minute meetings to cover these important topics." Or "I respect you and realize how important it is for us to discuss these important issues; however, I simply have tasks at hand that need my attention right now. Let's schedule time to talk when we both can be more focused." With some individuals it takes just one time to get your point across; many times it takes consistency and repetition. The keys here are honesty and respect.

  3. Follow-up: Check back with the person in a day or so to gauge their response. Were they offended or a little embarrassed? Did they understand and even gain respect for you? Did you follow-through on your scheduling proposal. Your relationship is important, so they need to know how much you care and that you're thinking of their needs along with your own. Who knows, you may have started a trend. They may now be encouraged to set boundaries with individuals who unexpectedly take up their time. Soon your entire organization will be more respectful of one another's time and productivity will follow suit.

  4. Are you the distraction? Be honest with yourself. Do you take up unnecessary time with your colleagues? Do you take too long to get to your point? Are you respectful of other's time? If you are unsure pay close attention as you approach their office. Do they squirm; pick up the phone and look stressed? Do they avoid you in the halls? Such physical cues may not be available, yet you could well be their time management challenge. If in doubt, ask.

Thank you for your feedback on this important topic. While amazon.com contains over 200,000 matches to a search for 'time management,' it may all boil down to each of us simply being more respectful of each other's time.

Enjoy your discoveries and have an outstanding week.


P. S. We'd love to hear how you used our 'Success Thought of The Week' in your business or personal dealings.

"Your December 5th Success Thought regarding "Be Here Now" held great timing for us. My wife and I have recently taken on some major projects. We need to live in the moment and be thankful. That is the one thing I would add to your list - Be thankful. Just sit back and think of 5-10 things you are thankful for--family, health, kids, wife, business, home, intelligence etc. That helps me stay in the moment."
~ Diego Miron, Louisville, KY

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Permission is granted to either reproduce copy or distribute "Your Success Thought for the Week for December12, 2007" as long as this copyright notice and full information about contacting the author is attached. The author is Ann Golden Eglé, Golden Visions Success Coaching, LLC, 541.385.8887, PO Box 1696, Bend, Or. 97709. www.goldenvisionscoaching.com

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