Time is money. Time is the most precious commodity. We hear that all the time and yet we so willingly give it up. As a leader, I want to advise you to put a value on your time and teach others to value your time as well.
How? Be unavailable.
As a sales rep, I had to manage my time and clients shrewdly. My goal was to be easily accessible but not always available. I had responsibilities with other clients and I needed to allow myself time to be accessible for them. So I made some hard rules about the way I spent my time during the week.
I remember wanting to eat my handgun because of all the worthless internal conference calls/meetings I had to endure. That isn’t going to change. So resign yourself to at least one day a week where you have to adhere to someone else’s timetable. The day of the week for me was every Monday. I gave up my Mondays to administrative work and being handcuffed to the desk or conference line.
I made some hard rules. I would use my Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays for client meetings at 10AM and 2PM. Any week, every Tuesday or Thursday at 10 or 2, I was with a client. I planned nothing else during the week. It made scheduling easy. I put the client on notice that I determined the time to meet. When a client needed to meet, I gave them a time to meet. For example, a client would call me on Monday demanding a meeting at the earliest time. I would look at my calendar and see Tuesday at 10AM open…but I also noticed that 2PM on Wednesday opened up. I would offer them 2PM. My time is of value. By delaying the client, it told them that I have a busy week and I dictate my schedule. This method earned me a lot of respect and it taught my clients that when I spent time with them they were worth my time. Also I would never hurry over to a client’s office saying I’m free now. That just screams that you are not busy and you are not taking care of your clients or them.
If you don’t value your time, no one will.
I have noticed that the younger generation is always available; my young partner never lets his phone go to voice-mail. At first, I thought it was me. He found my conversation boring but in reality he is symbiotically connected to his phone. He always answers. He is never NOT available. This is hard to explain but it relays a message that your time is not worth much. The caller thinks So-and-So is not busy or doing anything important (EVEN THOUGH HE IS AT WORK, AT A FAMILY GATHERING, PRESENT AT THE BIRTH OF HIS/HER FIRST CHILD) so I can call him. It gives the caller a false sense of importance. It teaches callers that you will DROP everything just to hear their voice. Voice-mail is there for a reason. Use it. Now if your job entails taking a call from Benghazi during a firefight…you may want to answer it. Otherwise, it can wait.
I remember growing up as a child and my mom would allow me to go to a friend’s house. She would always say “call me when you get there.” Leaders, take time to travel. Be quiet in your car. Be unavailable. Return your calls when you arrive at your destination. Try it.
Listen. Have fun with it. Tell yourself that you will let every third call go to voice-mail. You won’t answer that text until AFTER you leave the public restroom. (Think about that the next time you use someone else’s cell phone.) Or you won’t answer the cell while you are in line paying for your groceries or while you’re in the stall. Be unavailable. Value your time.
Next week we will talk about team meetings, texting, and dating. No really. Dating…especially for you married folks. I mean it. Stay tuned.