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**The Business Consortium** [This Network is not currently active and cannot accept new posts] | | Topics
Organization Tuesday: The Late Business Consortium SolopreneurViews: 143
Feb 04, 2009 1:34 am Organization Tuesday: The Late Business Consortium Solopreneur

Julie Bestry
“Better late than never, but never late is better.”

As a professional organizer, I deal with tangibles (stuff) and intangibles (time, belief-systems), and one of the factors that shapes how well someone adapts to new organizing and time management skills and systems is whether the person understands and internalizes the concept of limits.  

For example, some clients will clip articles with the vague intention to read them in the future, or hold onto unread journals, magazines and books, year after year, with little or no effort towards reading the items in the ever-climbing piles.   Often, we have to sit down, count how long it takes to read one medical journal or one text in their field, and then extrapolate ... at which point, the client is shocked and chagrined to realize that reading the backlog (not even counting the continual addition of materials), as if it were a job, eight hours a day, five days a week, would likely be impossible.  Certainly, it would take longer than their predicted lifespans.  Without a concerted effort to rein in the materials, the idea that there's a limit on the space one's items can/should take up tends to become a vague, out of reach concept, like death.  Instead, people buy storage more containers.  Heck, they rent storage buildings!

Well, if people are bad about "stuff", they're often less successful measuring and accounting for their time.  And unlike stuff, you can't really expand your limits.  We all get the same 24 hours, the same 365 days; certainly our lifespans vary, but out day-in, day-out schedules are all similarly limited.

Given the number of deadlines in our daily lives:  expiration dates on foods, quarterly estimated tax deadlines, project due dates...it constantly surprises me how fluid most people's relationships with time actually are.  You would think that our "outside" limits on professional time would enforce more structure and that we'd be more efficient.  However, I recently read that ten minutes of tardiness per professional amounts to $90 Billion (yes, billion with a "B") per year in lost productivity.  That's equivalent to approximately 1% percent of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product!  Further, academic research has estimated that at least 20% of Americans experience chronic tardiness, arriving almost everywhere for almost everything, late.

Time is money, so lost time means lost money.  When we are late, we decrease our productivity and the productivity of those dependent upon us.  However, in addition to the measurable losses of each "tardy" event, there are social and professional losses that can have profound negative repercussions in our business (and personal) relationships.  Just yesterday on Twitter, a young entrepreneur tweeted (asked) publicly, and then to our own Felicia Slattery:

"Do you judge people if they are late for an appointment or give someone a 2nd chance if they miss an appointment w/you?"  

Our esteemed Felicia responded "If someone is late for an appt w/ me w/o compelling reason/call/email, it lowers their credibility w/ me."

So, we're not only talking about lost money, but lost credibility.  Being responsible with your time and others' time determines how we're seen by others, and our reputations can determine our incomes.  Thus, it's important to see how being late adversely impacts our own productivity and negatively affects reputation when tardiness delays prospects, clients/customers and strategic partners. And of course, other people's tardiness certainly influences the ebb and flow of our business days, so we need to look at  how we can keep other people's chronic lateness from derailing us.  

Over the next several weeks, I'm going to use Organization Tuesday to hone in on a variety of time management issues.  We'll revisit some of the topics we've discussed in the past (goal-setting, task-planning, dealing with interruptions), but we'll also focus specifically on some of the nitty gritty ways we can stop being late and stop other people's being late from reverberating through our own lives.  

But first, I'd like to take the temperature of the group, and ask some questions, which I'd earnestly ask you all to answer here in the forum:

1)  What amount of time constitutes "late" to you if you are waiting for someone else?  Is anything within 5 minutes acceptable?   15 minutes?  Half an hour?  (Assume you do not know the reason for the delay.)

2)  Do you have the same definition of "late" when you are the one arriving?  

3)  Do your answers to #s 1 and 2 differ if you aren't physically meeting someone, but are having a phone call, a teleclass or digital meeting.

4)  Does the person's status make a difference?  For example, are you more willing to accept  tardiness from your doctor than your spouse?  From a prospect vs. a colleague?

5)  Under what circumstances, if any, do you think it's acceptable to be "late"?  For example, would you never be late to a business meeting with a client but consider it OK to be late to meet a friend for lunch?  Is it not acceptable to be late delivering a tangible product, but OK to be late for a  client session.

I encourage you to use this space to share your belief systems, annoyances and experiences. I promise to incorporate tips and systems to meet each personal preference.

Julie Bestry, Certified Professional Organizer®
Best Results Organizing
"Don't apologize.  Organize!"
Visit http://www.juliebestry.com to sign up for Best Results For Busy People:  Organizing Your Modern World, a newsletter to help you save time and money, reduce stress and increase your productivity

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