How often do you hear the phrase "I just don't have the time?"
Time stealers are those little things that creep up on you and literally ‘steal your time’.
Perhaps the first thing to understand is why you may let things ‘steal’ your time. Well, it is usually a question of procrastination, a need to feel useful or helpful, or a genuine belief that you can do something better than someone else.
Or perhaps you have something that needs your attention but don’t really want to do it, or maybe even don’t know how to do it; often, under these circumstances it is really easy to find yourself getting involved in other things with the self-justification that you are busy.
A general lack of organisation and direction in your day will also see you getting drawn into time stealers. An attitude of ‘fire-fighting’ means that you are likely to start your day opening your e-mails and dealing with the demands of each one in the order in which they have arrived in your in-box. Next you will accept interruptions from people who call you on your mobile and/or your landline and ask you to do extra things, or to add things to your ‘to do list’.
Another great way to accumulate time stealers is by allowing people to ambush you without notice and you find yourself volunteering to ‘take a look at it’ or find yourself saying ‘leave it with me’ or perhaps ‘pop it in an e-mail and I’ll have a look at it for you’.
Ken Blanchard wrote a brilliant book ‘The One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey’ and it draws the analogy of time stealers as monkeys and how they always seem to end up on your desk. More importantly, he identifies how to avoid them. In short, think of every issue as having two legs, one is on the other person’s shoulder and the other one is on yours. The crucial thing now is after your interaction with the other person, who has both legs. If you say something like, ‘drop me a note and I’ll have a look’ then you get the second leg. Similarly, when you say ‘leave it with me, I will have a look’- you get the second leg. It is much better to say something like ‘What do you think we should do?’ or ‘Well if you’d like to come up with a couple of options, we can look at it together next week.’ Both of these responses will ensure the other person keeps both legs of the monkey.
But, in essence, your well-meaning attempts to help others can overload your diary or itinerary and this is what really steals your time.
What kind of things Steal Your Time – let me know?