3 Ways To Put A “Stake” Through The Hearts Of Time Vampires
Every business has that person (or often multiple people) who love to steal your time.
They suck the time right out of your day with their frequent unscheduled office drive-bys, off-topic chatter in meetings, and meetings they schedule without any real agenda.
Sure, these people don’t mean any harm—and they most likely aren’t even aware they’re doing it—yet they can completely derail your day.
If you want to put an end to this madness and take back ownership over your days, then here are three ways for you to put a stake through the hearts of time vampires.
#1: Block Your Calendar
This may seem obvious to simply block time on your calendar, yet I’m amazed at how many people are surprised when I tell them they need to do this. By blocking some of your time on a daily basis, you are setting yourself up to own your day.
Here’s specifically what you need to do:
First. Find a certain window of time (ideally at least 2 hours), and create a personal meeting that occurs every single day. That’s right, every day.
Second. It’s not good enough to just block time on your calendar either, you also need to guard against people who blindly schedule you into meetings—even when your calendar shows that you’re unavailable. Ask them to reschedule, or you can decline with a friendly response and catch-up with them later.
Third. Use your blocked time to work on your most important tasks.
You may worry about whether it’s unethical to put “fake” meetings on your calendar, but let me put an end to your worries and tell you that it’s absolutely acceptable and completely ethical.
If you don’t take control over your time, I can guarantee that someone else gladly will.
#2: Work Outside The Office
If you’re neither at your desk nor in your office, then time vampires won’t be able to find you. This means you’ll be able to avoid the “do you have a minute” conversations that take a lot longer than just a minute.
It may not always be possible with your specific job or role to physically leave your office building, but you can try other options such as “hiding out” in a conference room.
Or if you have your own office, then you can shut your office door.
It’s extremely difficult to get into a productive zone when you have people interrupting your train of thought every 15-20 minutes. Ultimately, the goal is to get out of the office, close out of your email, turn off your instant messenger, hide your cell phone, and get your stuff done.
Try combining tip #1 with tip #2 to gain even greater time protection and overall productivity. This way you work outside of the office during the time you have blocked on your calendar.
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#3: Create Meeting Agendas… And Stick To Them
Before we dive into the specifics of creating meeting agendas, I first want to make something clear. If you don’t absolutely need a meeting to accomplish some specific objective, then simply don’t schedule a meeting. And if you don’t schedule a meeting, then, of course, an agenda isn’t even needed.
Since there are many good reasons to schedule meetings, let’s talk about how to best control the time in your meeting.
First. Create a specific meeting agenda that outlines the topics to be covered as well as the overall objective of the meeting. Ideally, the agenda items will revolve around a single topic to keep the discussion focused.
Second. At the beginning of each meeting, ensure the group understands the agenda and the overall objective.
Third. If any topics come up in the meeting that do not contribute toward the overall objective, make note of the topics for a later discussion and then get back to the agenda.
One Final Note On Meetings…
It’s a very common practice to schedule meetings in 30-minute increments. This is fine, but most meetings don’t really need to be 30, 60, 90, or 120 minutes. And people always find a way to use up the entire time scheduled—even when it isn’t really necessary.
So, if your meeting really only needs to be 10 minutes long, then schedule a 10-minute meeting. If your calendar software doesn’t allow 10-minute meetings, then schedule a 30-minute meeting, but END the meeting when one of the following two things happen:
1) When you reach the end of your scheduled time. This is important because if you go longer than your scheduled meeting, you are now becoming a time vampire yourself. Don’t be a time vampire!
2) When you get through the entire agenda and have met your objective.
Alright, there you have it. You now know 3 easy ways to keep others from stealing your precious time. Now get over to your calendar to create your daily personal meeting, and block your time.
Seriously, go do it now before you forget.
Ryan has been heavily involved in the world of Information Technology and entrepreneurship since the early 2000s. From small business consulting to Fortune 500 IT leadership, Ryan has a wide array of industry knowledge. He earned his BBA from the University of Iowa in 2004 majoring in Management Information Systems and later earned his MBA from the University of Iowa in 2009 with a focus on Management and Marketing. When he's not spending time with his wife and three young children, you'll find Ryan pounding away at his keyboard, spinning on his Peloton, or listening to a good audiobook or podcast.
Connect with Ryan on Instagram.
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