The Clock and the Compass

The Clock and the Compass

There are two contrasting tools, which are usually instrumental in directing us towards what we should be doing: the CLOCK and the COMPASS.

The Clock represents our

  1. Commitments
  2. Appointments
  3. Schedules
  4. Goals
  5. Activities

The Compass represents our

  1. Vision
  2. Principles
  3. Values
  4. Mission
  5. Conscience
  6. Direction

The problem is usually when there is a gap between the Clock and the Compass, we feel trapped, and we feel controlled by other people or situations.  We are constantly responding to crises.  We see deterioration in our relationships especially with our loved ones and eventually we just learn to live with this imbalance in our lives by giving numerous excuses and justifications.

The Clock and the Compass

The Clock and the Compass

Respecting other people’s time

Perhaps the best way to gauge how important it is to respect the time of others is to think of how you feel when a boss, coworker, or subordinate wastes your time especially when you are at your busiest.  Colleagues impose demands on your time every day: by sending confusing messages or setting unclear expectations, chatting about irrelevant topics, calling for unnecessary meetings, and being late to meetings.  And in turn, you need to be aware of how you may be imposing demands on other people’s time.

Communicating Efficiently

More than to be respectful of other people’s time, it is critical to become a good communicator.  If you cannot clearly communicate a message, you might send a coworker on a wild goose chase that squanders her precious time.  If you don’t communicate expectations clearly to your subordinates, they might misinterpret your directions and waste efforts on unnecessary tasks.  If you take 20 minutes to explain a simple issue to your boss, the next time something comes up he/she might be reluctant to meet with you, knowing you will take up more of his time than you need to.  When composing an e-mail or leaving a message, take the time to structure your thoughts first and prune out extraneous information.  Don’t pour your message out in a stream-of-consciousness style.  Keep your communications short and to the point, while remaining friendly.  Coworkers will appreciate your brevity.  If you think certain e-mails are a waste of time, chances are your peers do, too.  If forwarded joke e-mails seem pointless, don’t forward them yourself.  When calling someone, let him know you won’t take more than a few minutes of his time.  He will be relieved that you are taking his time seriously and will be more likely to be responsive to your conversation.

Be aware of other people’s verbal and non-verbal cues.  If someone doesn’t immediately engage in casual conversation when you walk into his office, realize that he might be trying to focus on an important task and doesn’t want to be interrupted.  When you walk into someone’s office uninvited, don’t immediately launch into a discussion; instead, ask if this is a good time to talk and be respectful of the person’s answer.  If he responds that it isn’t a good time, don’t insist; ask him if you can schedule some other time to talk.  When you communicate with your boss, be especially mindful of time.  Some people get so little attention from their bosses that they hoard it when they finally have it.  But if you suffocate your boss, he will be impatient with you for not valuing his time.  Before meeting with your boss, make a list of issues you want to cover and mentally outline your conversation.  Pay attention to your boss’s signals to determine how much information and details he likes.  Then deliver it, stay on point, and move the conversation.