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

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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.

Time is valuable. You can always make more money. You can never make more time. Click To Tweet

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.

The main reason people don't value your time is that you don't value your time. Click To Tweet

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.

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

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.

Have a plan for your week before other people plan it for you. Click To Tweet

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.

Spend 80% of your time with the people who give you 80% of your results. Click To Tweet

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.

If you can't articulate the goal of a meeting you called, rest assured no one else can. Click To Tweet

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.

Can't find the time to get it all done? Become a high-impact leader without burning out (or sacrificing yourself).

Without a new strategy and approach, it's easy to continue to:

  • Sacrifice family on the altar of work
  • Overcommit and underdeliver
  • Have no time for what you actually want to do
  • Struggle to get time off to refuel and relax

Worst of all, other people—other tasks, jobs, and projects—will continue to hijack your life.

It’s time to change that by implementing a strategy that works.

At Your Best is a proven strategy to get your time, energy, and priorities working in your favor. It's my step-by-step online course that will help you overcome stress, find a sustainable pace without losing impact, and be far more productive at work.

50,000+ leaders have used the At Your Best strategy to escape the stress spiral and finally do what they want to do—grow their organizations, advance their careers, launch new ventures, be far more present at home, and take regular time off.

Wow! I didn’t realize I was in desperate need of this message and system in my life and business. 

This message so profoundly impacted us, that we named our annual company theme, “At Our Best,” using Carey’s system and resources to strengthen our culture and make health a priority this year.”

Sean CannellFounder and CEO, Think Media

Whatever you choose to do with it is up to you. Join today for instant access.

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Carey Nieuwhof
Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof is a best-selling leadership author, speaker, podcaster, former attorney, and church planter. He hosts one of today’s most influential leadership podcasts, and his online content is accessed by leaders over 1.5 million times a month. He speaks to leaders around the world about leadership, change, and personal growth.