Have you ever waited for a meeting that started late? Or sat waiting in a restaurant for a tardy client? Or had your flight delayed? Of course, you have. It happens all the time. Typically, we're not prepared to take advantage of this "lost" time. Instead we end up stressed out because we think we should have been doing something more productive.
Here are three ways to handle "lost time."
1. Reconfirm appointments one business day in advance. If you can avoid the last-minute cancellations, you'll gain back time from the meeting, plus travel.
2. Ask, "Why?" Clarify the purpose of your attendance at the meeting; really know the function of your role. You want to avoid sitting through a meeting and saying to yourself, "Boy, that was a waste of my time." Pursue the options of a phone conference and handle all the discussion over the phone when possible.
3. If you have to wait, make the most of it. Keep a folder of magazine and newspaper articles to read with you. Load your iPod with audible books (i.e., books on "tape") and informational and inspirational podcasts such as Pop!Tech, TedTalks, Harvard's HBR IdeaCast, The Economist, etc. Update your cell phone address book by adding contacts from the Call History. Review and delete old cell phone voicemails.
A major key to time management is to be proactive and to anticipate "time wasters." Bypass feeling angry by staying productive, regardless of the circumstances. You may not always be able to avoid cancellations, delays, and other people running late, but with a bit of preparation, you can get even more done when life doesn't go exactly as planned.
Jason W. Womack, MEd, MA, is the founder of his personal development education company that enhances organizational performance through customized individual effectiveness training and coaching. Visit www.JasonWomackCompany.com for more tips on maximizing workplace performance.