5 Hard Truths About Why People Don’t Value Your Time

value your time

Ever wonder why people seem to think you have endless amounts of time to do whatever they want you to do?

You know those situations where they ask you to help out on a project, or attend one more meeting, or even give up your Saturday to help them move?

I’m talking about the kind of conversations where you leave thinking, “Don’t they understand how much pressure I’m under?”

Like you, I realize time is one of the most critical non-renewable resources in this life. You can always make more money. You can never make more time.

That’s why I wrote At Your Best. It’s designed to help you get time, energy, and priorities working in your favor instead of against you.

So why is it that other people don’t value your time?

You’d be surprised. It has a lot less to do with them and more to do with you. As I figured out the answers to that question, it opened my eyes to why things were happening – and not happening – in my leadership.

Here are five reasons other people don’t value your time.

1. You Actually Don’t Value Your Time

So, why do people not seem to value your time?

Other people value your time precisely as you value it. The main reason people don’t value your time is that you don’t value your time.

This is not an easy lesson as a leader. But early on, when I was struggling with my time, it dawned on me that the main reason people didn’t value my time was that I didn’t value my time.

Think about it for a minute. Take yourself out of the picture and think about the leaders you know.

You know leaders who don’t seem to value their time at all.

They spend a lot of time in casual conversation when they could be moving the ball down the field. They lack discipline when it comes to finishing tasks on time. And they show up late to meetings. (Please hear me, we’ve all done these things occasionally. I’m talking about habitual patterns here, not occasional exceptions).

Interestingly, these same leaders end up in meetings where the person they’re meeting with shows up late or cancels last minute.

They’re not good at hitting deadlines, and they have trouble getting other people to hit deadlines or do what the team needs them to do. While there are many issues underneath that, one of the key factors is simply this: if you don’t value your time, why should others? Others value your time exactly as you do.

Contrast that with the habits of other people I know who really value their time. They’ve prioritized who they meet with, and while you might get some time at the water cooler with them to catch up, not everybody gets meaningful slices of their time. And that’s intentional.

If you have a conference call or arrange to meet up with them at 3 pm, the meeting begins at 3 pm, and often they’re online a minute before.

In addition, they’ve likely spent some time before that prepping for the call. They hit deadlines. They organize almost every hour to get the most out of their day, including downtime and time with family.

Sure, they might struggle from time to time with keeping all their tasks on schedule, but when you look at their capacity and output, it is staggering compared to others.

Someone who values their time also inspires others when it comes to meetings and not being late for them. When you get an hour with them, you value it. Because they value their time, others do.

Others value your time exactly as you do. If you value it, so will other people.

2. You don’t have a plan for the week before it begins

If you don’t have a plan for your week before it begins, you’ve planned to fail.

Leaders who value their time always start with a plan for the week before it begins.

I have a fixed calendar I live by. When I’m not traveling, I have a very similar week every week. Days for meetings. Days without meetings. Productive windows I reserve for writing. I will show you how to set up your fixed calendar in my newest book, At Your Best.

Your pattern will vary, but the key is this: have a plan for your week before other people plan it for you.

3. You haven’t decided the kinds of people you’re going to spend most of your time with

As your life gets busier, one of the most important shifts you can make as a leader is to stop just thinking about people and start thinking about ‘kinds’ of people.

I’m not talking about stereotypes at all, but I am talking about the role that people play in your life and leadership.

You won’t have time to meet with everyone, so you need to figure out in advance who you’ll meet with. That’s where the ‘kinds’ of people distinction helps.

For example, as your church grows, you might realize you can’t meet with everyone so instead you’ll meet with volunteers.

Then your church grows and maybe you discover that you now have hundreds of volunteers and that category no longer works. So you decide you’ll spend your meeting time with people who lead your volunteers.

The leaders who lead with the highest impact have discovered one other secret: make most of your meetings with the people who give you 80% of your results.

Spend 80% of your time with people who give you 80% of your results and stand back and be amazed at what happens.

Regardless, if you haven’t decided ahead of time the kinds of people you’ll meet with, you’re sunk.

4. You head into meetings and conversations with no clear goal in mind

Ever sit in a meeting and wonder, “Why are we meeting?”

Ever lead one of those meetings?

Yep, we’ve all been victims, and most of us have been guilty of calling one or two of those in our lives.

If you really don’t want people to value your time, have no clear goal in mind when you call a meeting. If you can’t articulate the purpose of a meeting you called, be assured that no one else can, either.

Ditto for unproductive meetings and ineffective meetings.

The same goes for conversations. It’s always good to connect relationally, but if there’s no direct purpose in the conversations you’re having, people will come to devalue your time.

5. You spend two hours at your desk but accomplish nothing

So, you set two hours aside to move some freight, and at the end of it, you’ve got nothing to show for it.

Sure, you played Whac-A-Mole with your email (hit one and two more popped up while you were answering the first one), checked Instagram and Facebook, clicked on all the Twitter links, and played with some Snapchat filters and buzzed around that big project. Still, you completed nothing of importance and can’t point to anything worthwhile you checked off your to-do list.

That’s the problem with office work. Unlike an assembly line, there’s no car door coming off the line every 4 minutes that you have to attach or get fired.

Sure, if you browse social media instead of your job enough times, you may get fired. But a far more likely scenario is that you get your job done. You get it done later. Like at night. Or on weekends. Or on your day off.

And that stinks.

It’s one more sign you don’t value your time, and until that changes, others won’t respect your time either.

So, What Do You Do?

I have spent a good chunk of the last decade rebooting how I spend my time, energy, and priorities to accomplish far more than, honestly, I ever imagined was possible.

In addition to founding Connexus Church, which is home to more than 4000 mainly previously unchurched people, I’ve found renewed time and energy for my family, launched this blog and two podcasts, written five books, and produced content that’s accessed more than 2 million times each month – plus lead the team that brings you all of this.

Your story will be different, of course, but if you struggle to organize your time, energy, and priorities to realize your capacity as a leader at work and in life, my latest book, At Your Best, can help.

What Are You Learning About Your Time?

So, what are you learning on this?

Any of these hard truths resonate with you? Scroll down and leave a comment!

5 Hard Truths About Why People Don’t Value Your Time

10 Comments

  1. Bruce Hockersmith on December 2, 2021 at 8:24 am

    After reading some of the comments, I recall advice my father (a grocery store manager) gave me about talking to/with others.
    “If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say it.” I consider negativity a minus character trait that takes away from me.

  2. Austin on October 2, 2020 at 3:42 pm

    Lol this is stupid

    • Geoff on November 11, 2021 at 5:12 pm

      Found the person who doesn’t respect their time

  3. […] needed.  I was increasingly frustrated that others didn’t value my time, until I read a blog by Carey Nieuwhof, that pointed out that the reason people don’t value my time, is because I don’t value […]

  4. […] 5 Eye-Opening Reasons Other People Don’t Value Your Time by Carey Nieuwhof […]

  5. cymru77 on December 17, 2016 at 8:26 am

    Thanks Carey. As a busy Pastor in a very small church, I found this helpful
    God bless

  6. A Questioning Listener on December 15, 2016 at 1:13 pm

    I couldn’t help but notice you didn’t discuss Jesus, how Jesus prioritized his time or others, or even how the Kingdom of God may or may not prioritize time. This entire post has nothing to do with Christians or how, in the context of being members of the Kingdom of God, we are to even determine priorities in the first place.

    How is this post ANYTHING about the Church, or Church Leaders? Is it because it really doesn’t have anything to do with Church or Church Leaders?

    And why would any Christian attend your course if it has nothing to do with what it means to be a Christian?

    • Scott on December 26, 2016 at 4:08 pm

      Perhaps a Christian looks at their time as a gift from God, and that as a steward they want to manage it well.

      Perhaps a Christian leader has burned out, or has watched others burn out and simply want to learn to prevent burn out themselves so they can serve better and longer.

      Esther and Mordecai did not have prophets rolling in to give them advice…they did what they thought best and God used them to save His people and bring about the Kingdom of God. You do not need to agree that these principals are good or effective,

      Carey is offering a tool which worked for him, he is not forcing anyone to swear allegiance to it, or treat it as if it were Scripture.

    • April F. on September 17, 2020 at 10:45 pm

      She doesn’t say its about church – She said its about time and leadership. Church is a huge part of her life, but its not what she’s teaching

    • Robby on December 2, 2021 at 1:52 pm

      Carey’s articles/posts are for leaders from all walks of life, Christian and non-Christian alike. The really cool thing is that Carey brings it from a Christian and Biblical perspective, and I appreciate that. If I was looking for an Inductive and exegetical Bible Study where I could break out a Strong’s concordance and Greek lexicon, I’m sure there are plenty that are available.

      Carey is a pastor who has a passion for encouraging and training leaders to be wise, whether they are Christians or not. While this article may not quote any Biblical passages, it still contains biblical principles that I would bet are just below the surface. Like this verse:

      15See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 16redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. Ephesians 5:16 KJV

      Just because Carey didn’t use this verse or others like it in his post doesn’t mean that it wasn’t a catalyst or inspiration for writing it. I don’t think he is trying to hide anything. In pretty much every podcast I’ve watched whether it’s with a Christian or Non-Christian leader, writer, influencer, or whatever, he usually always brings Christianity or the church into the conversation. Why? Well, I don’t know Carey personally, but I would be 99.9% sure that his faith and making disciples is the main driver behind all that he does. This is kingdom building stuff. Just because he doesn’t use a sledge hammer to drive it home does mean he’s not hitting the nail on the head.

      To be honest, I don’t use Bible verses to explain why I like my favorite sports teams or food, nor do I use Bible verses to explain to a mechanic about why my car is not running properly. It doesn’t mean I don’t love God or believe that the Bible is not absolute truth. I just don’t think being biblically or spiritually confrontational is an effective communication tool. There is a TIME and place for everything.

      My first reaction to this post was sarcastic, “Gee, thanks Carey for pointing out all my flaws”, which I don’t think was the intent. It’s just another gentle reminder to keep working at it.

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