17. How Others May React to Your Time Management

You’ll know you’re doing your time management correctly when you start annoying or disappointing people. If you’re not annoying or disappointing others, the odds are you’re still letting them have too much control over your schedule.

Once you do take charge of your schedule, you’ll probably be telling people “No” a lot more often. People generally don’t like being told “No,” especially by people they’re used to hearing “Yes” from. They may initially react to your “No’s” with disbelief or even resistance, but stick to your guns and they’ll eventually get the message.

Some of the people you say “No” to may call you “selfish” or “self-centered.” You aren’t: you are being “self-directed.” You may never convince them on the point, but make sure you yourself understand it and don’t feel guilty for taking appropriate charge of your time.

Hearing you say “No” more often isn’t the only behavioral change others will see in you as you start managing your time more effectively. They may also see you:

• Do more and different things. For example, get more serious about your activism, or finally take that class you’ve been talking about for years.

• Speed up: walk, talk and work more quickly, and end conversations sooner. (“Abrupt” is how they might perceive it.)

• Have less stress and more leisure time. (As mentioned earlier, by clearing out all the extraneous stuff from your schedule, you will leave more time for the important stuff AND for relaxation.)

• Have less leisure time (if you have been previously spending too much time relaxing and socializing, relative to your other priorities).

• Acquire new colleagues and friends.

• Use a different, more professional vocabulary.

• Become more confident, sharper and focused.

• Become more self-controlled and less impulsive.

And, because success in one area of life often empowers you for success in others, they may even see you:

• Dressing better and looking better all around.

• Maintaining a pleasanter and more organized household.

• Having more fun.

• Enjoying more fulfilling relationships.

These new attitudes and behaviors may inspire those around you, or they may confuse or psychologically threaten them. Those last reactions often happen when your success throws an uncomfortable spotlight on someone else’s “failures,” or her inability to make progress on her own goals. Such circumstances can easily engender significant bad feelings and resentment.

Have compassion for those who react negatively to your time management and other achievements. Society pushes down on us all, trying to get us to conform and be passive. You may possess unusual vision, courage or other qualities that have helped you make progress, but others are no doubt limited by circumstances that don’t affect you, and they probably also have positive qualities that you, or they, don’t recognize. Rather than blaming or shaming them, or allowing them to blame or shame themselves, remind them that everyone faces different sets of obstacles, and that you are there to support them as they make progress in their own way and at their own pace. Be humble, in other words; be a good, and generous, winner.

If people are receptive, share with them your goals and the reasons you are doing what you are doing. Ask for their help and advice; that will not only “disarm” any skepticism, but also help them access their own strengths. (Plus, they probably do have something to teach you.) Eventually, perhaps, you’ll be able to work with them to help them develop their own Mission and to recognize and utilize the qualities they possess that will help them get there.

Have compassion—but if someone is relentlessly hostile or tries to undermine you, then remove yourself from that person as quickly as possible. By “remove yourself,” I mean emotionally and, if necessary, physically. It’s a profoundly sad thing to have to leave your family and friends behind, but it is something that ambitious people have done throughout the ages. Never forget that the people you surround yourself with will be a key determinant of your eventual success or failure. They will either lift you up or pull you down, so make the decision to be lifted up.

Here, again, is how successful activists view and manage their time. They . . .

• Value it properly, recognizing that it is their most precious resource.

• Manage it, using the system described herein or another one.

• Take active charge of their schedules, not letting others set their schedule for them.

• Discard, Delegate and Say “No.”

• Use the other tips I discussed to defend their schedules and be more effective and efficient.

• Stand up to peer pressure telling them not to change.

Another thing they do is to recognize when, despite their best efforts, they are not sticking to their schedule. In other words, when they are procrastinating. Which brings us to . . .