Respecting Others’ Time by Meggin McIntosh, PhD

Apr 8th, 2013

timeProductivity and good manners often go hand in hand, and we all strive to be productive and to be viewed as being polite. Unfortunately, when we are less than productive, we often throw our good manners out the window.  I’m reminded of a quote: “Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.” Notice that most of these tips are simply issues of respect (good manners).

  1. Ask other people for permission to intrude on their time and space.

  2. When you call someone on the phone, say, “Good time? Bad time?” If they say “Well…” they mean it’s a bad time.  (Note:  My brother has taught me this one and I love it!)

  3. Tell folks up front how long you think a meeting, appointment, or task is going to take…and ask whether that will work for them. Be as accurate as possible in estimating these amounts of time.

  4. Pick up on cues when you are in someone’s office, home, or other space that give you the message that you are there at an inconvenient time. Tell the person that you’ve noticed you’re interrupting and that you’ll come back at another time. Leave immediately.

  5. Listen for verbal cues when you are on the phone that you might have called at an inconvenient time, or that the call has gone on too long. Use the phrase “Well, it’s back to work for me!” and conclude promptly.

  6. Avoid sending emails that are of no value or consequence. Especially avoid “bounce back” or “ping pong” emails (thanking them for thanking you, etc.).

  7. Negotiate deadlines for tasks that have been delegated. Don’t interrupt others’ (including your employees’) time and productivity by asking for constant feedback on a task (unless that was part of the negotiation).

  8. Plan well so that you are not asking for things at the last minute, whenever possible. If you must ask for something at the last minute, announce that the deadline on another task will be extended.

  9. Don’t interrupt others who are talking as if your issue is more important than theirs. If it is, then at least apologize.

  10. Teach others to respect your time, too.  We’re all more polite…when we’re all more polite.  We all respect boundaries better when…we all establish and respect boundaries.

Use this email as a focus point for an all-office meeting. See if there are ways to improve everyone’s respect for time, which will consequently increase everyone’s productivity.

Meggin McIntosh, PhD (also known as “The PhD of Productivity”®) was a university professor for over 15 years and spent five of those years working with faculty at the University of Nevada, Reno.  Since leaving the full-time academic life for the full-time entrepreneurial life, Meggin writes, consults, and does workshops for smart people who want to be more productive, thereby being able to consistently keep their emphasis on excellence.  Thus, the name of her company is Emphasis on Excellence, Inc.

And for strategies to help put pockets of time into your writing, check out Putting Pockets in Your Professional Life: 52 Tips to Implement Immediately. This booklet is for professionals who are frequently rushing from meeting to meeting, promising and then not delivering, or wondering if they will ever “catch up.” In this booklet, readers will find tools to support them in our often-crazy world so that they can live their professional lives more peacefully and productively.