Tag Archives: time management

Time poverty

Time poverty the latest corporate epidemic

Poor timekeeping and time poverty

Richard Branson wrote on LinkedIn telling us that if we wanted to be more productive, we should be more punctual. Yet poor time keeping seems to be a current and growing trend, as everyone claims to be overloaded and time poor.

Time poverty has become a corporate and cultural epidemic. Busy or stressed has become today’s standard response to a routine enquiry asking someone how they are. We ae constantly complaining about time poverty.

Time scarcity seems to have become a badge of success and an indicator of professional status.

Opportunity cost  

I confess to having been guilty of some erratic time keeping myself. I was very much “a one more thing before I go”  type of girl and a great subscriber to the phrase “fashionably late.” But, fortunately in my early career, I worked for a manager who monetized the communally wasted time whenever any of his team was late for a meeting. It was actually quite shocking. If we had all been held financially accountable, our pay cheques would have been significantly lighter.

When I transitioned into sales I had to replace  “better late than never ” with  “never late is better.”   Arriving late isn’t actually a recognised commercially winning strategy.

Running late

I have become acutely aware in recent times how erratic general timekeeping seems to have become and how easily  the phrase “running late”,  has slid into our daily business and social vernacular, including my own. Very often people apologise, (sometimes they don’t), explaining that either they, someone, or something else was “running late“, as though they were a bus service, entirely passive and had nothing to do with it at all. Clearly there are always unforeseen circumstances but these tend to be less common than imagined.

I ran a training session a few weeks ago when 50% of attendees were late. I was told this was quite usual. A contact mentioned that two of that same organisation’s account managers were late for a sales meeting with a senior director in his company. They went on to lose the account. A lack of respect for time, their own and others, has become embedded into their corporate culture.

Why are we all becoming more tolerant of  poor time keeping? Whatever happened to William Shakespeare’s “Better three hours too soon, than one minute too late?”


Julie Morgenstern, author of Time Management From the Inside Out,  tells us that the first step is to make promptness a conscious priority, but also we need to  gain an understanding into why we’re always late. Poor timekeeping can be very costly, both directly  but also via damage to our reputations suggesting we are unreliable,  untrustworthy and/or disorganised. The reasons she maintains tend to fall into two categories: technical or psychological.

1. Technical Difficulties

If we are always late but at different time then, the likelihood is that it is the result of  bad planning and under estimating how long things will take. Morgenstern advises establishing patterns by keeping a time log of all tasks and finding out exact how much time each task takes. Then factor in a margin for some unforeseen contingency.

2. Psychological

 – Inability to say no

Linda Sapadin, PhD, author of Master Your Fears believes there are deeper underlying implications of poor timekeeping,  which are linked to procrastination. Very often many of the difficulties come from lack of confidence and an inability to say no,  or even to tell another person we have another appointment in our diaries.

– Do you choose to be late?

If we are always late by the same amount of time, there could be a number of reasons – but no doubt, it’s about us!  We might be:

  • Rebellious   – not doing what’s expected
  • A crisis maker   – need an adrenalin rush to get going
  • Attention seeker  – which comes with being last through the door and going through the apology ritual.
  • Power playing  – I’m more important than you are,  sending a message of disrespect
  • Avoider – you don’t want to meet the person, or attend the meeting, so leave it until the very last-minute.

So next time instead of saying something  “ran late”, perhaps we should all just be honest and admit to being bad planners, power players, attention seekers or avoiders.

More importantly if we manage our own time, we will automatically respect the time of others. We should also stop thinking poor time management is worth emulating and follow Richard Branson’s lead.

“It means being an effective delegator, organiser and communicator.”

If you need support with your time management and planning which could impact your career – check out these coaching programmes.

4 time management tips to work smarter not longer

Even though my kids left school years ago, I’ve always been impacted by the back to school vibe. Just like in school, it’s a great opportunity to use this symbolic period to take some refresher classes.  I decided I needed to go back to school and focus on some time management tips.


We all often complain about not having enough time. Me too. For many of us time is our most valuable commodity. So now seems a good moment for me to review some time management basics to make concrete changes to the way I go about things. With a good foundation of best practises firmly in place I intend to create a new and better time management plan for myself. When we value our own time and the time of others, the tendency is that this approach will be reciprocated.

Here my back to school 4 basic time management tips:

 Carry out a personal time audit

  • Keep a log of how you spend your time on a typical week day.
  • How does this change at the weekend?
  • When are you most and least productive?
  • What tasks could do with a little more time spent on them or survive a cut ?
  • What are you spending time on that you don’t really enjoy, or  tasks you enjoy but have no value?
  • When are the main points in the day you waste time?
  • Using this evaluation, decide how do you want to redistribute your time.

Identify your priorities

  • What are your goals?
  • Create a to do list that reflects as many steps towards meeting those goals as possible, not just what needs doing or you like doing
  • Put these essential task at the top of the list,  as well as tasks that you like doing. Facebook is fun, but unless you work for them or it is a genuine professional tool, this should go low on the list

Identify tasks, distractions or individuals that eat into your time

  • Identify anything which causes a regular, repeated drag or drain on your time. These could cover technical glitches, workload peaks, routine tasks that could be outsourced, unproductive meetings or even people. We all have individuals in our lives who are time wasters and energy drainers. Whether they are your best friend, a colleague or a report, be clear who they are and be willing to tell them

In a formal business environment set clear guidelines about when you are free for unscheduled meetings, taking calls out of the office, when you will have your phone switched off and will respond to emails. This is easier with seniority, but even at a junior level your boss should appreciate your structured approach. That’s OK for you, I was told. You are your own boss! So ask him or her:

Turning off my email alert signal was one of the best things I have ever done to reduce distractions. Just as I know that chocolate contains calories, I know I’m going to get emails most minutes of most days, and most of them are not important.

Schedule down time

One of the biggest time-eating traps is not scheduling time off.  Big mistake. We all need to disconnect, have enough sleep, exercise, eat healthily and make time for things that matter to us  – whatever they may be,  to simply re-charge.

So as the summer fades away, why not go forward into the winter with a new game plan

Need help with your time management? Check out the individual coaching programmes!