White lies in time management

20 June 2016

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Human performance

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In the time management world, we sometimes accept truths that are not entirely true. We believe in them, yet they make us waste time. Those who tell us these white lies aren’t necessarily liars or bad people because you and me are also one of them.

Here are some examples:

“It’ll only take a minute.” Have you ever heard someone say this sentence? Does it really only take a minute? Rarely!

Next time someone says, “Can I speak to you for a minute?” Tell them: “I’ll give you 5 minutes, and after that, I’ll have to stop you. Go ahead, I’m listening.” Give them all your attention, and after 5 minutes, stand up.

“I need it as soon as possible.” No, that’s not true. You need it for a specific date because you are going to do something with what you ask of me.

Be specific. Ask the person, “When do you actually need it? You and me probably have two different dates in mind when we think ‘as soon as possible’.”

“I need it now.” Allow me to doubt it. In this world of instantaneity, we all have a feeling of artificial urgency of now or even worse of… for yesterday!

Don’t let yourself get caught in the whirlwind or other people’s urgency. Say: “I’m not certain I can do it immediately. Is Wednesday suitable for you?” Give yourself a reasonable deadline to do it. If the person rejects this alternative, give them 2 other deadlines. Why? Because it’s probably a white lie.

Don’t forget: Do not let your lack of organization become their urgency. What a powerful phrase! We must repeat often, especially before busting in our colleague’s office to ask them… “Do you have a minute?”