Question: Until I am measured, I am not known. Yet how you miss me when I have flown. What am I?
In a scene from the 2004 remake of the zombie apocalypse movie “Dawn Of The Dead”, a man sits, waiting to die from infection, having been bitten by one of the living dead. Ving Rhames’ character stands over him with a shotgun as he pants heavily, begging Rhames to wait until that moment comes before shooting him. “You want… …every… …last… …second…” he utters between staggered breaths.
You know what happened when he finally stopped breathing.
It was then that I truly understood the value of time. Not that I hadn’t before, but that scene put things in an all-new perspective. The thought of knowing that you’re at the very end, fighting for every last beat of your heart. Wow.
Which brings me to my point about time, specifically that of others.
Time is precious to everyone. To many, time is money. Time is something that moves quickly and nonstop, and is something you can never regain, no matter how hard you try. This is why we have time management systems like personal planners, smartphone planners/reminders and real-live administrative assistants – to help us budget and maximize our time.
So, when someone makes time for you, it’s important that you respect it! When you tell someone that you want some of their time, they literally put their life on hold for you. Have you ever noticed the look on someone’s face when a stranger asks for “a moment of their time?”
Yeah, it’s that serious.
Because when you ask for their time, in many ways, they freeze their world.
I’ve had this conversation countless “times” and if ever there was something I wished someone covered in a movie (to reach audiences, worldwide), this pet peeve of mine is it. And although many of you know these points I’m about to share, they beg repeating.
And do please share it with someone “who needs to hear this”:
10 Things You Should Consider When Respecting Someone’s Time
- If you tell someone you’re coming over (or asking if you can), let them know WHEN. “Coming over” is anything but specific. When someone is expecting you, more often than not, they cancel or delay their personal plans. If you’re not planning to come for several hours, this gives them the opportunity to get other things done. Nothing irks me more than sitting still, in a holding pattern, only to have you arrive hours later than you indicated or implied. This is why I ask you “when” you’re coming over, if you haven’t already mentioned.
- If you give someone a time, honor that time. Same as before. If you tell me you’re coming through at 7 p.m., I don’t mind you being a little late. Hell, from some of my friends, I expect it, because that’s their way. But when you show up at 8:00, 8:30, you run the risk of agitating me severely. A better word would be “angering”. It’s one thing if you’re attending an event and your attendance affects little because you’re one of many. It’s another thing if they’re waiting on you for the party to start or if you are the sole visitor. This is especially true if you’re bringing one of the few “key” entrees to a potluck event. It ain’t cool for you to bring lasagna an hour later, after everyone is full, from appetizers.
- If you’re running late, let them know. On the heels of points #1 and #2, although not critical, it’s a matter of being courteous. 5, 10, maybe even 15 minutes is not a big deal to people. But beyond that, you should be considerate enough to let someone know that you’re running behind schedule. Despite what some may think, I’m not being anal about this point at all. Understand that people can get a lot done if you find that you’re going to be 30 minutes late, but they can’t because you paralyzed them.
- If you’re running VERY late, consider rescheduling. As a photographer, time is what makes my business operate effectively. Timing is what allows me to schedule multiple shoots in the same day. Time is what I need to travel, prep my gear, photograph my clients and lastly edit photos, if necessary. I, like my colleagues, make it clear that if you exceed x-amount of time being late for your appointment, it will be canceled/rescheduled or penalized monetarily (should we run over – I charge hourly). I can’t afford to start an hour late and hope to give you a full photo shoot and I’m not going to rush and compromise what, for you, should be a professional and dedicated effort.
- If you make plans, let them know ASAP. Someone once called us at 4 a.m., informing us that they were 45 minutes away, headed in to see us from out of town.
Uhhh, when did you make this decision and why are we just now hearing about it?
The funniest one was when someone told us they had arrived at our home (after a 6-hour drive, trying to surprise us). When he arrived, no one answered the door. So, he called us, wondering where we were. We were out of town. Lesson learned.
- If you CHANGE your plans, let them know when YOU know. You may remember my blog post which contained the story about a co-worker who wanted to spend time with me away from work. He and his wife showed up 30 minutes late the first time (we didn’t say anything – being polite). The second visit, I called him after an hour, having not heard from him. “Oh, I decided to wash my truck and then took a nap…” he answered. “I’m still coming through.”
I’m sure you can guess how long my friendship with him lasted.
- If you CANCEL plans, let them know when YOU know. Nothing gets my goat like having to call someone to see what’s going on (I don’t do this often, but if you haven’t called me and enough time has passed for me to worry that you might have been in an accident, I am going to call). After about 45 minutes, I called someone to see if they were still coming (after preparing a meal for them/us) and he said, “Yeah, we’re not going to make it.”
(Jeez Kenny, what kind of friends are YOU making?)
- Keep track of time. I have a good friend who came over to check out my music collection. I warned him that my house can be a time warp if you’re enjoying yourself. We sat, going through my computer, talking about music and listening to songs he hadn’t heard in years. Then I asked, “When does your wife expect you to come home?” Mind you, his visit didn’t bother me at all. It was the weekend, and I was enjoying his visit. When I noted the time, he freaked. His wife expected him home around 10. It was 3 a.m.
See? Time warp. Angry wife waiting…
- Don’t wear out your welcome. Similar to the aforementioned, but there is a difference. In #8, we were having fun and time was of no consequence to he and I. He could have spent the night for all I cared. We were having a good time. But know this: If the time you spend with someone serves no purpose and you/they have other things to get done, be respectful. Most times, just hanging out is cool. It’s relaxing. It’s therapeutic. But as we get older, I find that more pressing matters need attention. I’m quick to tell my host(s), “Well, let us get on home so you guys can get some sleep.”
Because we’re old now.
We have jobs.
We need sleep.
24-hour deodorant doesn’t last 24 hours…
- Don’t waste my time (or yours). Do I even need to explain my final point? I shouldn’t have to because it’s a summation of the previous nine examples and the inspiration for today’s message. Know that people have lives and, as I keep saying, TIME IS PRECIOUS. Case in point, this post that you’re reading. I know that this was more than a 2-minute read. YOU know my propensity for detail, humor and analogies. What I’m getting at is, if I know you’re taking the time to read what I have to share, I’m darn sure going to make it worth it. I respect your time, because it’s valuable to you. So, while I invest my hours collecting my thoughts for these posts, clacking away at the keys, looking for or creating applicable animated gifs/photos, reviewing, proofing and rewriting, I know that it all had better be enough to justify the 5-10 minutes you’ll spend reading it.
Because I have to make it worth your time…
…or you won’t give me any in the future.
(Sean Connery voice) “Here endeth the lesson…”
Thank you for your time.
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