managing your time is a way of life, not a best practice
It is a word we use regularly in conversation, think about often, and wish we had more of it. Here are things I hear almost daily….
- There are just not enough hours in the day for me to do my job
- I wish I had better work/life balance
- I want to spend more time with my team
- I can’t find time to have a weekly touch base with anyone
This is NOT going to be a post about how to be more effective with your time, or shortcuts to better time management. There are dozens of books and hundreds of articles written on that topic. Nor can I give you advice on work/life choices, that is very personal. Rather, this is an honest conversation about TIME and maybe how to think differently about it as a new way of life.
There are sayings like “time is your most precious gift because you only have a set amount of it” or “you can make more money, but you can’t make more time” which are true in theory, but are we using that as an excuse to not act instead of generously giving our time away to each other? When you consider that time is a valuable gift, use it to the best of your ability by not letting it slip away unnoticed.
When we think about how we can demonstrate that we really care about those around us, particularly in the work environment, it is time that is most memorable. Honest, engaged, conversational time.
People often start conversations with me saying “I don’t want to bother you because you are really busy” or “I don’t want to take up too much of your time”, which are very polite and appreciated, but what I know is that when I commit to having a quality, engaged conversation with someone, whether it is in an interview, with a sales associate, or with a senior leader, human connection is magical and time becomes irrelevant. These conversations can take 10 minutes or they can take an hour, but they are often the most meaningful part of my day.
Use those moments to learn something about that person, a new topic or idea, or just find out what you have in common. The more you learn, the more valuable you are to your employer. And great learning opportunities are all around you if you stop and take advantage of them. The more you know about your company and your industry or a member of your team, the better your chances of making a positive impression on those around you.
On the other hand, you can become a time fanatic by building time management spreadsheets, creating priority folders and lists, color coding tasks, and separating paperwork into priority piles that you start to waste more time by managing it to too deeply. Time management techniques may become so complex that you soon give up and return to your old time-wasting ways.
And here is the last idea for which I have no facts to back up but I believe strongly: There is a direct correlation between the quality of time you spend with your team and the quality of time your team spends with your customers.
We are all speaking in retail today about building customer relationships, but It’s not enough to just say that relationships are important; we must prove it by investing time in them. When you are honest with yourself, how are your relationships with your team? Are you giving generously of yourself to them? If you can’t find time for consistent, honest conversations, then don’t expect them to be out on the front lines creating the kind of relationships with customers that they don’t get from their leader.
If you consistently feel that there are not enough hours in the day to do your job, maybe it’s about prioritizing what is urgent vs. important, and always putting people at the top of the list. Other tasks might need to be delegated, accomplishing the things only YOU can do. It might mean you have to rethink how you work, or ask for feedback from your organization about what they feel is urgent vs. important and what they think are the things that only you can do. You might be surprised that they don’t align, and consequently you are finding it difficult to put people first.
Bottom line, when you are focused on giving someone your undivided attention, you are giving them a portion of you at that moment, but I encourage you to think of time as limitless, and the more time we invest in each other the less we will worry about scheduling it, it just becomes your way of life.