Respecting Other People’s Time

Respecting Other People’s Time


I grew up in a home where being late was not an option.  If we had to be at a certain place at 3:00 p.m., then we were at that certain place at 3:00 p.m.  For a short time, I believed that everyone was like that.  I believed that no one was late, that everyone arrived on time, etc.  I’m not 100% sure when I actually started to notice people being late, but I see it all the time!  I remember one event at church that sticks in my memory.  Our minister had already started, all the families were in the pews listening attentively.  I distinctly remember a certain family coming in during the sermon.  How and why I remember them is by the way they came in.  Not only were they late (imagine – on a Sunday being late!), they did not sneak in quietly and sit at the back.  No sir – they walked right in, down the center aisle and sat very close to the front.  While our minister went on (and I’m pretty sure he was not impressed), this family got themselves settled (and they were not quiet) and carried on as if nothing happened.  To this day, it still irks me that they had the audacity to walk right in and disrupt the entire sermon.

In my past life as an elementary school teacher, it used to drive me batty when kids were consistently late.  One example would include a student named Johnny (not his real name).  Class would  be started, we had  completed our morning routine and started on the morning lesson and little Johnny would come in, stop at the door and say, “Good morning.  I know I’m late but have I missed anything?”  Really?? Seriously?? You ask this EVERY DAY!  Did this little boy actually think we did nothing and just waited for him to show up?  And if he did think that, where do you suppose he learned that from?  When the discussion of this came up at interview time, Johnny’s mom would say things like, “…mornings are really rushed for us…..I just can’t get Johnny to get his jacket on…..I’m having a hard time waking up…”   Ahh…..the excuses and excuses.  What I really wanted to do was give the mom a shake and say, “Wake up!  You’re the parent, you’re the adult, get it together!”

Fast forward to my life as a Professional Organizer.  What I’ve come to know through helping people with time management is that many adults do not have time sense.  Sure, the younger generation can multitask with the best of them, but can they get anything completely done?  Few can – many can’t.  Teaching my clients to be respectful of other people’s time is where we actually start.  For some of you, you may think this sounds a bit silly.  It’s actually surprisingly alarming!   If, as a child, you were never taught the value of time, how would you know that wasting other people’s time is considered selfish and careless?  In today’s busy work environment, no one likes to have time wasted.  Here are a few quick tips on respecting other people’s time:

  1. If you are running late, communicate that to the people waiting as soon as you can.  We all know life is not perfect.  There are car accidents, there’s rush-hour, there’s life!  Have the courtesy and make the call.   Apologize for the delay and perhaps offer the option of re-scheduling.
  2. Be efficient – have an agenda, a set start and finish time and use that as your guide.  Nothing worse that a meeting lasting 2 hours that could have taken 30 minutes.
  3. Allow for transition time – whether you are going from one meeting to the next or meeting a couple of clients in a day, allow some time in between.   Never schedule meetings back to back.  I typically suggest at least a 15 minute break in between meetings (if no travel is required)

Time is precious and people do not like to have it wasted.  Once you have wasted time, you will never get it back.  It’s just not possible!  Choose to be respectful and courteous of other people’s time.  You’ll be happy you did!

Sheri Bruneau

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