Being Ruthless With Your Time

A number of years ago, I had an appointment with someone for coffee to discuss business and I completely forgot to show up. This person was sitting at the coffee shop for 40 minutes or so just waiting and I never showed.

It was the only time in my life I had ever done anything like that.

It wasn’t until the next day that it occurred to me what had happened. I was horrified and instantly felt sick about it.

Long story short, I called the person right away and apologized profusely trying my best to explain myself. They were not impressed. I went above and beyond to smooth things over, offered to buy them lunch and do anything else I could to redeem myself. After some real efforts I eventually won their respect back.

But that one incident was so embarrassing and painful that it has never and will never happen again.

Why?

Because you can burn someone’s house down or you can borrow their car and crash it but at the end of the day, you can solve the problem by replacing those material items.

But once you have taken someone’s time, it is gone forever. And it is the most precious commodity any of us have.

I network with a lot of other entrepreneurs and I can often tell how experienced they are by how ruthless they are with their time. Unless the meeting is casual, they focus on the immediate agenda and they don’t waste time talking about anything off topic. They finish scheduled meetings on time and they are never late for an appointment.

Here’s A Quick Checklist You Can Use To Make Sure You Maximize Your Time:

  • When booking a meeting/appointment with someone be very specific. For example, say “I have Tuesday at 10am or Wednesday at 11am open, which time would you like to book?”. When they reply with their choice, immediately book the time in your calendar with an alert so you don’t have to think about it again. Send a reply telling them you have booked it in your calendar with an alert. They will know you mean business.
  • Once you have a meeting booked, ensure you do everything in your power to be there on time and ideally early if possible.
  • If the other person is late, decide in advance your absolute drop-dead time. For me, I usually wait up to 20 minutes for an in person meeting. Skype or phone based meetings 10 minutes is usually my max.
  • If someone does miss an appointment with you, make sure they know how serious of a violation it is in your eyes. Your approach may be more or less aggressive than mine. I’m usually fairly cool about it but then again, when this does happen the other person is usually quite embarrassed and accommodating (much like I was in my example in the opener) . Use your judgment to decide if you should take anymore appointments with this person.
  • If you request someone’s time in the form of a meeting or phone call, be sure to complete everything you have proposed. For example, if you ask to interview someone, they are agreeing to the interview because there is mutual benefit. You get content and they get some exposure. Make sure you publish the interview and do exactly what you said you would do with it. Provide them with a copy of the interview so they can see the finished copy.

Final Thought…

NEVER EVER under value your time…

I remember one of my rookie mistakes when I first became an entrepreneur was giving free “brainstorming” meetings with prospective clients. These meetings could sometimes go for 2 hours (or more). Often I wouldn’t get a deal at all yet they got tremendous benefit by being able to pick my brain.

A mentor of mine taught me how to start invoicing people for these coffee style meetings and it would either

a) Make them respect my time more and get a deal in place
b) Annoy or insult them because they expected it free. In which case… PERFECT because I would no longer be wasting my time on them

Don’t let anyone waste your time. Be ruthless. You will create an internal environment of self respect that will reflect itself outwards in everything you do.

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