One of my coworkers was a chronic kick the can down the road personality.
She would consistently cancel and postpone our meetings. Three or four weeks in a row.
Every time we were due for a check in on our latest project, her excuse was that she just needed got a better handle on things and get some projects off of her plate so she could prevent projects from backsliding and sneaking up on her.
Which sounds awful. In fact, the majority of modern professionals probably feel the same way.
But all compassion aside for a moment, my thought was always, help me understand how that’s my problem.
It just bothers the hell out of me when people try to dress up their poor time management skills by saying that they’re in high demand. Or when people act like the least important thing they do is more important than all of my work put together.
Look, we work at an organization, which is basically a dysfunctional family where people get paid to be there. And so, everyone has a lot on their plate. We’re all being pulled in many directions.
But since nature abhors a vacuum and all work expands to fill the time allotted to complete it, let’s not lean on the tired excuse that there’s not enough time.
Bullshit. Time is an arbitrary human construction. Einstein himself proved that time shrinks and expands according to our mindset. Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour; sit with your beloved for an hour, and it seems like a minute.
This theory of relativity transformed theoretical physics and astronomy during the twentieth century, and it could not be more relevant to organizational efficiency issues.
People who constantly cancel and postpone meetings are not working from a place of temporal abundance. They haven’t learned to tell the story that they, not anyone else in the company, are the source of time.
They haven’t discovered that they can make as much of it as they want to, and they have exactly the right amount of time to accomplish everything on their plate.
Most professional drag their bones into work every day already in an antagonistic, us versus them relationship with time. And everyone else on the team is suffering because of it.
Here are two solutions to this problem.
Firstly, if you can’t get something off your plate, maybe you should stop eating alone. Delegate, collaborate or outsource.
Secondly, if you can’t get something off your plate, maybe you should eat smaller portions. If you are so busy that you keep cancelling and postponing meetings, you shouldn’t have agreed to work on this project in the first place.
Personally, I would rather coworkers say no to me once before the project even starts so they can move on to something else, rather than say yes, jump in to help, and then regret that decision for the next eleven weeks.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Wouldn’t it be nice if we all could just do what people want before they know they wanted it?