You probably know the feeling. You are on time, but everyone else straggles in over the next 30 minutes before the meeting finally begins. Or you find yourself stuck in the airport with a delayed flight. Maybe everyone is even in the right place at the right time, but the conversation turns to dates or diapers or other things besides taking care of the business at hand. How can you maintain your own personal effectiveness when you are subject to the time management (or lack thereof) of others?
Time Management in a Culture of Time Wasting
1. Bring Something Else to Do
If you are a captive audience for a meeting that won’t start or an airplane that won’t take off, then make sure you always have something with you to keep you occupied. Maybe such awkward in-between times aren’t ideal for digging into a big project, but they could be perfect for updating your calendar, brainstorming for an upcoming project, catching up on emails, or even pulling out a book to read for pleasure.
2. Go With the Flow
If appropriate to your particular company culture, simply adjust your own internal clock to better align with standard practice. If meetings just won’t start until a certain margin after the scheduled time, then you might consider continuing your work at your desk until a little later to maintain your own personal effectiveness. Rather than interrupting your flow to hurry up and wait for everyone else, just keep working for a little longer while others trickle to the meeting.
3. Suggest Changes to Boost Personal Effectiveness
Perhaps you are the only one who feels frustrated with time wasting. But chances are, if you speak with your co-workers one-on-one, you will find that you are not alone. If others also feel a dip in personal effectiveness when meetings with others are involved, perhaps it is time for a change. Consider suggesting a more official agenda with a timekeeper or facilitator designated to keep the meeting on track and get people back to their desks or even back home on time. If people are motivated by getting to leave work on time and not take work home, they may be more motivated to keep on task.
How do you improve time management while working with others?