A Time Vampire is something or someone that literally sucks the time out of your day. They manifest themselves in many forms and you need to eradicate them quickly.
You may not even recognise what/who they are as they make you believe they are fun, friendly, and harmless, but they are vicious little time munchers that feed off the most finite resource you have: your time.
Being able to recognise these vampires is the first step to protecting yourself from them and will allow you to have a much more productive day.
As I said, Time Vampires take many guises but I’ve listed a few common ones and advice on how you can drive a steak right through their hearts:-
Mr “have you got a minute”
This may be the most insidious of all Time Vampires. He lurks near your desk, near the water cooler or corners you in the kitchen…wherever it is possible to catch you off guard. “Have you got a minute” or “I just have a quick question” are their opening lines and at first it may seem very rude to brush them off. But, if this becomes a habit you must nip it in the bud as soon as you can. You may think that it’s easier just to deal with them there and then rather than having a question hanging over you but you must be firm with them as by disturbing your time they are telling you that their time is more valuable. Tell them you’re busy right now but schedule a 15 minute catch up later in the day where you can address any questions they may have in one hit. You may even find that asking you for help is simply a lazy habit and if they really think about it themselves instead of using you as their crutch they will come to the right answer on their own. This will help to build their self- esteem and grow as an individual.
This particular Vampire wants to do nothing but have meetings. People like meetings at it makes them feel important, they’re also a good way of procrastinating on a decision. Don’t get me wrong, I get that meetings need to happen but in truth meetings without a specific agenda are time killers. Here are some stakes you can use to ensure your time in meetings is productive: –
- Email a clear agenda in advance
- Have a clear and achievable objective for the meeting
- Have the meeting before lunch or at the end of the day –it’s amazing how much you can get covered when you are against a time limit.
Mr “drama queen”
So, this is someone who can pop up in business and your personal life. These Vampires turn everything into an emotional crisis and if you’re not on your guard they will pull you right into their soap opera! The problem with these particular Vampires is that they guilt you into giving them your shoulder to cry on. Now I’m not talking about people who have genuine problems and who are going through a tough time – you should always be there for people who need your help, but you just need to recognise if they are taking the advice you are giving them or whether they just want to talk about themselves and go round and round in circles. The best way to deal with people like this is to cut to the heart of their problem and tell them what to do (most of the time it is obvious). This isn’t what they want… they don’t want solutions, they want drama. Don’t entertain them and they’ll soon latch onto someone else.
This is potentially the biggest Time Vampire and can effects both your work and your personal life. Next time you’re on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any of the other social media tools, try and observe exactly what you are doing. What are you getting from it? I know that they can be good tools in business for building brand awareness, and good to organise social events with groups of friends, I even think they’re good for updating your “friends” with little snippets of what’s going on in your life (albeit glossy and filtered). What I’m talking about is when you’re sitting having supper with the family, when you’re on the daily commute, relaxing in the evening ….when you’re randomly flicking in and out of apps seeing if anything new has changed in peoples life’s – the majority of which you probably haven’t actually seen or spoken to for at least 6 months. Before you know it you’ve watched a You Tube Video of a guinea pig taking a swim, an armadillo playing with a ball or celebrities reading mean tweets about themselves (actually I found this very funny and I would suggest taking a look – https://youtu.be/RRBoPveyETc sorry!)
The next time you are aimlessly staring at your smart phone why not download some apps that will help you grow….Headspace for meditation, Audible for audio books and Pzizz for relaxation are just some of the great apps I use. Or why not put your phone in another room and actually engage in conversation…what a novel idea?
Now there are undoubtedly more time sucks but these cover some pretty big ones and hopefully I’ve given you some tools to get more of your time back. A good thing to remember is that every time you say yes to something you are automatically saying no to something else. Make sure that you are clear of your goals and that you make the time to get done what’s needed to achieve them.
Time is the greatest asset you have, spend it wisely….with loved ones, on self-improvement and working towards your long term goals. Don’t learn these lessons when your time it’s almost run out.
And to finish, here’s a quote worth remembering “Don’t get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life”