Tick-Tock – The Importance of Respecting Time

Posted by BMD 04/04/19


Bet you can’t see that without singing it. And, if you can you may be in need of a quick musical education. Go away, listen to the canorous pipes of the late Aretha Franklin and return promptly. Done that? Let’s move on…

Respect is something that is earned. It stimulates trust. It creates love. As worker bees, we are encouraged to respect the institutions and higher powers we diligently serve and we’re expected to knuckle down and deliver, often when an increase in hours and effort is not reflected with any sort of remunerative reward.

So why then, is the industry (and by extension the people within it) not reciprocal when it comes to respecting one of the most important commodities we possess – time.

Did you know, on average, Australian workers spend 16% of their day on activities that waste their time and effort and 9% of Australians waste time on unnecessary meetings? Well, according to the number wizards at EY, that’s what is happening to us in the workplace and it all stems from respect – or the lack thereof – of people and their time.

That’s right, Australia, I’m calling you out. We have a problem with respecting each other’s time and although I don’t have a robust methodology to help fix it, I do intend on providing a way to armour ourselves against this endemic problem.

Have a think now. How many times in the last week has someone canceled a meeting at the last minute? How many meetings have you sat in and wondered what value you are adding? How often are you in meetings about meetings? When you add up the time, it’s pretty frustrating.

It’s further exacerbated by the fact that time is literally our most important commodity and yet it’s flagrantly de-prioritised by almost everyone we meet. Effectively, when our time is taken for granted it’s a line in the sand saying, “my time is more valuable than yours.” Well, OK Jerry, I appreciate things crop up, but this isn’t an isolated issue and each time you drag me into a meeting only to cancel it, it has a huge knock on to my creativity and productivity.

So what do we do? Where do we go from here?

Here are my 10 top tips to target timewasting:

  1. Only invite people essential to the progress of your project. If it’s an FYI – send them a message outlining the three key takeaways and highlighting any points of action for them
  2. Make sure you are organised and prepared for any meeting – if it’s yours – set an agenda and supply information upfront. If it’s someone else’s meeting – ask for preparation material
  3. Manners matter! If you’re at a meeting, be AT the meeting, don’t sit there incessantly checking your emails/text updates and not fully engaging with what is being said. It’s rude and shows an enormous amount of disrespect to the conductor of the meeting
  4. Put your phone on silent! Unless it’s life or death, your messages and alerts can wait until the end of the meeting
  5. Ask yourself – Do you really need to cancel? If you are just letting people down so you can complete the most immediate task, or to see someone else, don’t. The more you cancel, the less likely people will accommodate your meeting requests and frankly, it’s insulting
  6. If people chase feedback, no matter how busy you are, taking the time to provide team members or prospective candidates with sound notes they can action takes five minutes and is essential for the evolution of the modern workforce
  7. If you do cancel, apologise profusely and be accommodating when trying to find a new time suitable for all. Remember, manners matter!
  8. At BlueMelon we are very much about the human touch and love to press the flesh whenever possible. However, we frequently work with clients and teams remotely – both within Australia and internationally, so video conferencing is a lifesaver and a timesaver
  9. If you do choose video conferencing, use a universal platform e.g. Skype, Google Hangouts, Zoom or even a simple Facetime – those awkward technical difficulties are never a winner, especially where new business is concerned
  10. This one is a cracker – happens all the time… remember to book a meeting room. Sure, sometimes meeting in the kitchen is great for informal team catch-ups, but sometimes it is just awkwardly… public, loud, distracting and results in an ineffective meeting i.e. A. Massive. Waste. Of. Time.

I have been a victim of some aggressively poor time respectfulness-ness in the past (Yes, I’m looking at you ‘Spirit of Australia’) but that doesn’t mean I’ve engaged playing the eye-for-an-eye game. I go out of my way to ensure I am both punctual and that if I am utilising someone’s time, I thank them for it and ensure they add value to proceedings. None of us are getting younger and having deadweight in meetings means stats like the ones seen in the EY study become further inflated.

Anyways… to quote the modern day poet Jay-Z, “this was just my thoughts. Just my thoughts. Just what I was feeling at the time.”

What do you think? Any tips or tricks you’ve picked up to ensure you respect others’ time?

Would love to hear your thoughts.