Dear Claudia,

My question for you isn't specifically about recruiting, but about time management. My problem is that I am almost always running late -- for appointments, interviews, meetings, birthdays, anniversaries. Don't get me wrong; I get a lot done and have been recruiting successfully for years. And yes, I know it's a bad habit, that it's unprofessional, but I don't mean it that way. I just honestly believe that I can fit everything into less time than I thought I had. Any ideas to help me improve this area of my life?

Always Late


Dear Always Late,

Ok, I confess: I feel your pain, for I am a Champion (aka ENFP) who lives and breathes in a world full of Masterminds (aka INTJs). For those not familiar with the Keirsey temperaments or Myers-Briggs personality types, this simply means that without intervention I would be happily caught up in whatever I'm currently passionate about to the exclusion of keeping my commitments as well.

I am happy to tell you that there is hope. May I first state the obvious, though? Wanting something does not make it so. Words are merely a statement of intention; it is behavior that builds reputation. And when our words and behaviors match we're seen as trustworthy and credible by others. This was the "Aha!" that convinced me to work on changing this behavior in myself: I realized that my casual relationship with time was damaging the quality of my relationships with others -- and that's the kiss of death for a recruiter.

If this is the case for you, here are a few things I've found helpful:

Recognize that it's a process.
Regardless of your personality type, it takes time to change behavior. Accept this, and keep working at it. Eventually being on time will become an unconscious competence; while you're a work in progress it feels pretty uncomfortable. Hang in there.

Write it down.
Visual cues provide me with excellent reminders to stay on track. As a creative, verbal processor I have a tendency to think out loud: "We could do this..." or "It's possible to do that..." Unfortunately this can also sound like a commitment to the person I'm talking to. I've learned over time to keep an old-fashioned calendar with me to write down commitments as I make them. I also keep a big white board in my office so I can write and think at the same time; my notes have saved me more than once. Yellow pads, which I learned to love as an executive recruiter, now always start with the date of the conversation and the name of the person at the top of the page or section. I file them away with the candidate, client, or subject notes later.

Make it a habit.
Make it your routine to start or end each day with an overview of your commitments for that day. Morning person? Do it before your day starts. Night person? Do it the evening before your next day. Look at your commitments, and mentally plan how your day will go.

Learn to estimate how long it takes to complete a task.
If you're like me, tunnel vision is both a blessing and a curse... so there's just one rule of thumb here: no matter how long you think a task will take, it always takes longer. I've learned to do several things in this regard: first, keep your calendar and a clock in line of sight during the day and check them frequently. Second, schedule breaks between your appointments to allow for a break or overflow. And third, add some buffer time to the front or back end of each task. As you get better at being on time, you can start to cut out the buffers. It really helps.

Learn to say no.
Time is the only resource you can't get back (ever), so pick and choose how you spend it. Seriously.

Find other ways to celebrate your personality.
Even if managing time seems to take all the fun out of it, there are lots of ways to weave what you love into your schedule. Plan time for play, creativity, relationship building, independence, dreaming, setting goals, sponteneity. There's enough time in your day, week, or month for whatever you choose, and that's the bonus. You get to choose.

Am I perfectly on time, every time, yet? Nope. But I've made big strides in that direction over the years. And by publishing this I've now got almost 12,000 new friends who can encourage me when I screw up (oh boy, oh boy). And if that isn't motivation, I don't know what is.

Happy recruiting!

**
In my day job, I’m the head of Products for Improved Experience, where we help employers use feedback to measure and manage engagement for competitive advantage in hiring and retention. Learn more about us here.

Do you have a question you'd like answered in this weekly forum? Drop me a line!

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Great advice as always Claudia- not much to add- I love your line here...
"Wanting something does not make it so. Words are merely a statement of intention; it is behavior that builds reputation. And when our words and behaviors match we're seen as trustworthy and credible by others."
......that is truly the big difference maker!

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