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Time Management Failures?—(part 2)
Denise Dudley, Ph.D., SkillPath Co-founder

November 7, 2011
I talked previously about some common time management “failures” that may not be so bad after all, like “failing” to turn your phone off to concentrate (not many of us can get by with that one), or spending 30 minutes a day creating your plan or “to-do” list. That’s a lot of time out of your day that’s hard to get back once it’s gone.
 
Step back a bit and think about what “all-or-nothing” time management is doing for you (or to you!) Would you stop meeting your goals if you eased up a bit? Would you start meeting more of your goals if you kicked up your time management efforts?  
 
Let’s continue that discussion with a few more of your “failures” worth admitting to ...   
 
  1. You don’t kick unwanted visitors out of your office. I really don’t know anyone who actually does this—without risking coming across as rude and making people mad. When uninvited visitors show up who don’t respect your time, there are better ways to send them off. You can stand up the moment Mr. Time-Waster enters your office and start heading for the door. Or better yet, go to him—that way you’re in control. You can also stroll with him back to his office and then tactfully remove yourself. And my favorite: Do not have a comfortable chair for that time-waster to plop in. Keep it piled with stuff.
  2. You have a hard time saying no. One thing I’ve learned is that it’s not about saying no so much as it is knowing how to say no. Could a “qualified yes” work just as well? The next time someone catches you off guard with a request, try responding, “Yes, you can count on me as your Plan B.” Or “Yes, give me a call next week if you haven’t worked it out.” In essence, the qualified yes means no. But you feel better saying it. And the other person feels better hearing it.
  3. You attend every single pointless meeting. To think you can go cold turkey and simply stop attending meetings is not realistic. It is, however, very possible to attend fewer of them. Try these two strategies: The next time you’re on a deadline or in the middle of a project, ask your supervisor if you can skip the meeting to focus on more important priorities. Or, if there’s a meeting where your contribution is small (maybe a quick status update) see if you can do your part ahead of time.
Time management is a highly individual thing, isn’t it? What have you learned from your “mistakes”?