Stop Me I'm A 'Time' Thief
I’m a Time Thief and you have let me steal yours. I didn’t feel, or lose, a thing, did you?
"Lost time is never found again" Benjamin Franklin Ibid 1743
Most of the time you don’t realise that you are doing it BUT you are. You, for whatever reason, have decided to allow others to use up the time you have set aside for something else, or , worse still, haven’t set aside time for. They come along and, before you know it, steal those valuable minutes, or even hours, from under your nose. Some of the time you know they are doing it but you let them do it anyway, other times you just don’t realise it.
Let me give you a couple of examples.
1. You have a work blog to write and so you switch on the machine and load the software. Your software is set up to auto notify you about emails and the machine keeps on pinging. I can more or less guarantee that you check them to see what’s coming in. You come across one that looks interesting and read it. You follow the link in the email and read the web pages it takes you too. More links look good and so you follow them as well. Before you know it an hour has passed and you’ve read all about the subject that the email links have taken you to BUT no blog work completed. Time is short, need to move on to something else. Who’s responsible for not concentrating on the blog?
2. You’re a Twitter fan. Some of those Tweets are really interesting and so you follow the links, return tweets, direct mail people and follow others. You spend over an hour on Twitter even though you know you have an appointment to keep and now you’re going to be late. Whose fault is it?
Whatever the answer is that you’ve come up with, if it doesn’t include the word ‘me’, then you’re in denial. The only person responsible for taking the actions you take is you – you are the ‘responsible’ person. No one else forced you to look at the email, take time to read the tweets, follow the links, meander through the web, etc. etc. etc. It’s all about YOU, YOU, YOU.
Now you’re probably going to tell me, or have already done so, that this is a load of nonsense. ‘No one steals from me.’ Yet I have successfully done exactly that.
You’ve stopped doing what you’re doing and are reading this article. Perhaps because you were intrigued by the title, or because you’re already interested in the subject, or it could be that you happened upon it whilst you were doing something else, whatever the reason I have stolen the time it has taken for you to get this far. You have allowed this to happen, your responsibility and accountability. No one else’s, just yours. So why have you decided to allow me to steal from you?
No matter how you look at it, feel about it or think about it the reason why I’ve been so successful in stealing your time is that you’ve decided to let me do it. Even though whatever you were doing was important to you, you decided to redirect your attention to something else less important (even though this made you feel guilty). Why? The reason doesn’t actually matter, what is important is that you have a decision making process that is needs a lot of improvement work. The one you have at present isn’t working as well as you want, yet you have decided to continue to use it – why?
Procrastination is the art of postponing doing things, for whatever reason. Although you had something important to do you decided to read this article instead – you procrastinated. Perhaps you decided you weren’t sure how to do something, perhaps you decided it was too hard for you to think about doing, or perhaps you decided it was too big for you to do. There may be loads of other reasons; however, each reason is a decision you have made based on procrastination.
We need to get you to understand your reasons for procrastination and then refocusing in on how to take decisions that are exactly right for you. There are a range of tools available – brain storming, diagramming, visualisation, flow charting, etc. some of which I’ll cover in a short workshop.
Say NO is perhaps one of the biggest decisions you face on a day to day basis. Saying NO to people around you, be it family, friends, colleagues, etc. can feel extremely difficult but if you don’t they’ll continue to steal your time. They don’t intend to be nasty or negative but, in these cases intentionality doesn’t matter, the fact that you let them do it is. What about saying NO to people who want to buy your services/products? Sometimes you have no alternative but to decide to say NO.
One way to make the decision easier is to ask ‘What’s the worst thing that can happen if I say NO?’ You’ll come up with some really hard answers but in each case you have to keep asking the same question. You’ll soon get to the point that you’ll have a series of options that are simpler to manage than the one (or none) you had before.
Saying NO could lead to someone not liking you anymore. I have no hesitation in saying that it is very unlikely to happen BUT if it does I’d ask the question ‘Whose loss is that?’ Most times the answer will be a very firm ‘THEIRS’. Remember it’s your time; thieves don’t like to be challenged.
A huge amount of your time is spent on doing things that may, or may not, move you one step closer to where you want to get to in the future. If you don’t know where it is you are heading (personally or business wise) then what does it matter.
“If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there.” Lewis Carroll
There are masses of time thieves out willing to help you not get there at all – it’s your decision. However, if you have a very clear view of where you want to be within a specific time frame then the decisions you have to take will be far simpler. There is a time thief personal attack alarm you can use now. It’s a question and it goes like this:
‘Will taking this action (name it) move me one step closer to where I want to get to?’
If yes – great and can you do it more effectively?
If NO – why are you doing it?
The best thing you can do right now (apart from using the tips above) is to decide to become your own Time Police. As a responsible member of the time police it’s up to you to ensure that people do not break your rules. This means you have to set the rules that are right for you. The simple decisions you have take are:
‘Do I say YES or NO to those that want to break (or bend) my rules?’
The levels of permission you decide on of allowing, breaking, bending, etc. are up to you.
There is only one conclusion. You are the person responsible for taking the decisions necessary to stop me, and everyone else, from stealing your time. Set the rules, implement them and watch for the improvement in the way you stop the thieves.
Until the next time.
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