If you don’t teach the world to respect your time, they won’t learn.

Time thieves are everywhere. Interestingly, if someone steals money from you, it’s a big deal. You don’t just say, “Oh well, whatever.” You try to find out who it was and get it back. You may even legally prosecute. Yet every day, other people are stealing your time—something infinitely more valuable than money.

This principle seems obvious, but to most people it’s not because your time is one of your most overlooked and undervalued assetsHaving five kids, one thing I’ve learned is that you have to have time boundaries or you become an all-you-can-eat time buffet. Can anyone relate? It’s not uncommon for untimely request to be answered by, “Sorry, dad’s closed. You’ll have to come back in the morning.”

Now, that’s not to say you can’t or shouldn’t be there for your kids. They’re one of your top priorities, so use wisdom and prudence. But they do need to know that mom and dad have lives, too, and most requests (which seem to always come up after bedtime) are anything but urgent.

So, how does this apply to you?

Let me ask you: when a client calls, texts or emails, do you drop everything immediately and respond right then? Or are you comfortable replying in an hour or two so you can finish what you’re doing first? In other words, who runs your day? When you set a precedence that you’re 100% available 24/7, a couple of things will happen.

  • First, at some point you will burn out. The model is not sustainable, especially as your business grows.
  • Second, you come across as desperate. When you’re always available, people can’t help but think you have nothing else do to than answer their phone call or return their email.
  • Third (and this one is the most important), your clients will come to expect it. And once that happens, it’s very tough to go back without jeopardizing the relationship.
How a real estate agent has mastered this

Years ago I worked with a real estate agent who understood the value of his time. He rarely answered his phone, but in his message, he explained briefly how he returns calls during certain hours of the day. He always called back promptly, but within the parameters he set for himself. And those parameters allowed him to be fully present to his clients. To structure his day and follow a schedule that works for him.

In other words, he taught everyone that he’s not always going to pick up the phone…because he’s fully vested in other activities at that time, maybe showing a home to other clients. And when it comes time for him to help YOU, he’ll give you the same respect, which I’m sure you would appreciate.

The beauty is that ultimately, it’s HIM deciding what works best for HIS business and then lets everyone know. They respect and follow his boundaries.

Your time is the most precious asset you own. It’s up to you to teach the world to respect it. And if you don’t, you’ll find people stealing your time all day long. If you have a system set up for yourself (and you follow it), you will greatly diminish your pockets of wasted time. And the world will respect you for it.

What are some time boundaries you set and how do you enforce them?