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How to Get Others to Respect Your Time

Today, I'm serving up some tough love that we all need to hear: If someone consistently oversteps your time, guess what? It's not on them; it's on you. That might be a hard pill to swallow, but it's true. We're the ones who teach people how to treat us, especially when it comes to respecting our time. 


First, take a good look at how you treat your time.

Before we expect others to honor our time, it's important to consider: Do I respect my own time? If you habitually overcommit, procrastinate, or fail to prioritize your tasks, you're showing a lack of respect for your own time. This behavior sends a subtle message that it's acceptable for others to do the same.

If you find yourself constantly in a cycle of time misuse, consider this an opportunity to reset. Start by evaluating how you spend your day, identify moments where you're not honoring your own schedule, and then take deliberate steps to change. Implementing time blocks for work, rest, and play can be a game-changing strategy, helping to establish a clear boundary that both you and others will begin to recognize and respect.

Embracing this self-respect for your time not only enhances your productivity and personal satisfaction but also sets a strong example for those around you. When you treat your time with the respect it deserves, you naturally encourage others to do the same, fostering a culture of mutual respect and efficiency.


Examples from the Trenches and How to Handle Them

Diving into real-life scenarios, let's explore some common situations where our time gets hijacked and how we can effectively set boundaries to safeguard our schedule. Here's a rule to keep in mind: rewarded behavior continues, and unrewarded behavior stops.


The Drop-In Colleague
Ever had a coworker pop into your office unannounced, asking for "just a minute" of your time that inevitably stretches into half an hour? If you cave and say, "Sure, just this once," you're basically rolling out the welcome mat for future interruptions. Instead, try a friendly but firm, "Good to see you, but I'm tied up right now. Could you book a slot in my calendar so I can give you my full attention? Thanks!"


The Late-Night Slacker
What about when you get a Slack message at 9 PM? Responding immediately teaches the sender that you're on call 24/7. A smarter move is to schedule your reply to go out the next morning. This subtle action signals that you're not available around the clock.


The Meeting Marathon
Then there's the boss who loads up your calendar with back-to-back meetings, leaving zero time for your actual work. If you just go with the flow and end up working late to catch up, you're sending the message that this scheduling nightmare is A-OK with you. Instead, take a stand. Politely decline the invite or explain the conflict to your boss: "I noticed the meeting invite, but attending means I can't work on the high-priority project we discussed. Should I rearrange my priorities, or can the meeting go on without me?"


The Weekend Warrior Client
And what about clients who assume your weekends are fair game for meetings? If you ditch your personal plans to accommodate them, you're setting a precedent that your time is theirs for the taking. Instead, assert your off-hours: "I appreciate your interest in meeting, but I reserve evenings and weekends for family. I'm available weekdays from 9 to 4. Can we find a time then?"


The Bottom Line: Guard Your Time Like Treasure

Being nice and avoiding conflict is one thing, but if you're constantly sacrificing your boundaries, you're teaching others to disregard them, too. Remember, controlling your time is essential for fulfillment. Don't give it away without thought. Setting boundaries isn't about being selfish; it's about ensuring mutual respect and creating a healthier, more balanced life for yourself and those you interact with.


Here's to your fulfillment!

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