5 Hacks to Stop Time-Wasters In Their Tracks
Someone showing up 15 minutes late to a 30-minute schedule meeting and expecting to still get 30 minutes of your time.
Someone talking off-topic for 10 minutes in a 30-minute meeting.
No one seeming to be interested in the meeting’s content: lots of blank stares and kinda-subtle phone checking.
Most people LOATHE and DESPISE meetings for good reason. Meetings very often waste one of your most precious resources: time.
Here’s the thing: YOU have the POWER to put a stop to the madness.
It’s not easy, and things won’t change overnight, but it’s worth trying to make some changes to minimize your stress and increase your energy to find creative solutions for your business. Don’t let time-wasters steal your super-powers!
5 Hacks for Stopping Time-Wasters
HACK 1: Use a meeting agenda. Don’t roll your eyes! Meeting agendas work.
This doesn’t have to be a stuffy, overly-formal document. An agenda could be a bulleted list in an email to your team: “Today, we’ve got to talk about…”
Agendas let everyone know what to expect during the meeting, and more importantly, what they should prepare to talk about in the meeting.
Agendas are also excellent for people who are more introverted: agendas minimize surprises and allow everyone to do research and gather information to prepare for the meeting.
HACK 2: Set time limits. Be clear about how much time you are going to devote to each item on the agenda.
Again, this helps people prepare for the conversation.
For example, it’s a big difference if we are going to spend 5 minutes — or 25 minutes discussing a particular topic. This allows me to prepare ahead of time.
HACK 3: Shut it down. If someone continues to talk during the meeting, especially about an off-topic item, the agenda gives you some awesome options:
- “Great point. We’ve got 8 minutes left to talk about this item, so let’s circle the conversation back to….”
- “Thanks for the contribution. We’ve got 8 minutes left before we have to move on, so I’d like to see if anyone else has other concerns we need to consider.”
- [My personal favorite] “I love your enthusiasm on this topic, but unfortunately we’ve got to get back on track. Let’s talk more about this off-line.”
In all of these situations, you are politely and respectfully moving the conversation back on track, rather than having to come up with a reason or excuse to interrupt!
HACK 4: Set clear boundaries. Your time is just as valuable as everyone else’s.
Let me repeat: YOUR TIME AND ENERGY ARE VALUABLE. Period.
If your scheduled meeting was for 30 minutes, and your counterpart shows up 17 minutes late to the meeting, they’ve got 13 minutes to make the most of it.
It’s not your problem, it’s theirs.
And, it’s ok to be up-front as soon as the conversation starts. This is why you set time limits!
- “I’m glad you made it! I’ve got another meeting at 1:30, so we’ve got 13 minutes to work this out. Where would you like to start?”
You do not need to apologize for having another meeting.
Nor do you need to say what the meeting is.
The meeting could be that you’ve got another project or assignment to work on and you blocked out time to get it accomplished.
You are not obligated to completely rearrange your work and your work schedule because of someone else’s issue.
Set the boundary. You are worth it.
HACK 5: Run a tight ship. Consider setting meeting times of 15 minute, 30 minutes, or 50 minutes instead of a ‘standard’ 60 minutes.
This does a few things.
It signals to the other person that you value everyone’s time and you want to use time wisely.
If I’ve only got 15 minutes to speak with someone, I am more likely to show up on time, ready to work.
Shorter meeting times keep everyone focused on the topic at hand, rather than allowing for the conversation to meander at will. (In some industries and situations, sometimes a meandering conversation is a good thing. In these situations, see Hack #1 and Hack #2).
Remember, my friends, that times are weird.
Everyone is struggling with an undercurrent of stress, with or without other major crises on top.
Authenticity and genuine care for others will resonate with everyone around you.
Be cognizant of their time and yours.
Stand up for yourself and remember that YOU are just as important as everyone else.
Keep rocking and I look forward to connecting with you soon!
P.S. Check out other strategies for dealing with different communication styles in this free download.