Committing yourself

By Tom Dowd | May 21, 2016

Have you ever been on a conference call and waited several minutes after the start time of the meeting to actually begin? What if each time a person joins late, the host stops and provides a catch-up summary? Is that fair to people who joined on time? How about meetings that extend beyond the scheduled end time with no regard for what anyone else may have scheduled next? I’ve been in all of the above, in each of these roles: on time, late, host, and guest. As the host, I finally made a commitment to start the meeting on time and end on time. Commitment is a critical skill in time management. I realized I needed to be more committed with several factors of my time management. By committing myself to building better habits, I found that others started to practice similar techniques.

Understand your own commitment level. Be fully invested in improving your time management skills, and be respectful of others’ time, as well. Think of examples in which you must commit and start to create the right actions and habits. Here are some examples:

• Commit to start and end times you set for yourself. If you said you would spend an hour on a project, stick to that time. If you’re not done with a task, set up a new time to complete it.

• The same holds true as the host of a meeting. Start on time and end on time. In a meeting, you may want to say, “Out of respect for everyone’s time, we’re going to get started.” It’s not always easy, but many times we enable the process. With every new late attendee who joins, we do a quick recap. As much as we want everyone on the same page, it makes the meeting inefficient and is disrespectful to those who did join on time. You can offer to catch them up after the call or have them read the meeting minutes, but it’s important to try to limit the constant recaps for the late arrivers.

• As the end of a meeting approaches, you may want to say, “I see we only have a few minutes remaining. We’ll end the meeting and cover the rest at the next meeting,” or set up a new time to finish that works for everyone. Going beyond the end time has a downstream effect for many. Showing respect for other people’s calendars builds the right habits for everyone. Be committed to making it happen.

Stay focused on doing what you set out to do, starting by sticking to what you allotted for time on your calendar. This will keep you on task, build a strong time management reputation for you, and ultimately save time for not only yourself, but others. Looking back at incidents when you let time drift or found yourself not committing to what you set out to do will provide you with a good snapshot of what needs to change and what new habits to establish.

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