Stop Wasting My Time

I recently read a Harvard Business Review blog post from Dorie Clark.  This isn’t the first post I have read from her.  I think her advice is quite pragmatic and helpful.  I’m always looking for little tidbits of advice, and in this post she delivers a few nuggets.

This post is about stopping people from wasting your time.  In today’s fast paced business world, where the concept of time and personal space is becoming increasingly blurry, reducing time waste is crucial if one is to have any chance of balancing work and life.

She states four strategies: stating your preferred communication method, require an agenda for meetings, policing guest lists and forcing others to prepare.  These are great strategies in my mind.  Some of these things I seem to do fairly naturally, but as with everything there is room for improvement.

Stating your preferred communication method to people will help streamline the many threads of information.  For me, my preferred method is email because it allows me to prioritize my responses to messages.  I tend to ignore incoming phone calls to my office as more times than not it is a time waster coming through from the other end of the line.

Requiring meeting agendas is a good practice also.  I have also couched requests for agendas using the “so I can contribute fully” phrase, and it really helps surface the true purpose of the meeting.  Often I am double booked, and the agenda is often the tie-breaker to help me decide which meeting to attend.

Policing the attendees is really important also.  For example, if a number of my managers are already in the meeting, I may choose not to go, and sometimes even help by agreeing to send just one from my team.  After all, it’s not just about my time, but my team’s time is valuable also.  More often or not, less is more when it comes to most meetings, so limiting attendees is almost always helpful to get a successful outcome.

Forcing others to prepare is the area where I can improve a great deal.  It really comes down to communicating expectations, and if I can do that, a meeting will lead to some form of progress.  I’m not always good about that, so for me this is the nugget I will take from this post.

Thanks again, Ms. Clark.  I appreciate the reminders.