What Does Your Response Time Say About You?

stop-watch1Three Steps for Following Through Even When You Don’t Have Time

I don’t have time to respond.”

We are in the midst of a demanding project.”

Your email message must have gotten trapped in my spam file.”

Whatever your excuses are, others’ trust, confidence and respect for you quickly diminish when you don’t follow through in a timely manner. Your response time will have a positive or negative impact on the level of influence you have on others. If you respond within 24 hours, you communicate respect, leadership and commitment.

And if you avoid responding or take more than two days to do so, you communicate a lack of respect and are possibly viewed as unorganized with questionable work ethics.

First, we need to tackle time. There’s never enough time in the day, or is there? We are all given the same amount of hours, minutes and seconds in a day. So why are some individuals better at following through than others?

Influential communicators always make time to follow through because they understand their reputation is on the line. What you accomplish and the level of respect others have for you is determined by how you manage and prioritize your time.

Second, honor your promises. If you say you’re going to follow through, complete a project on time or arrive at a meeting on time, commit to it. You may recall the Aesop’s Fable about the boy who cried wolf. When you continue to break your promises by not following through, you create a reputation that communicates disrespect for others’ time and a lack of trustworthiness and reliability. When you expect others to honor their promises, it’s like the boy who cried wolf; they don’t feel a need to follow through with you because you didn’t give them the same respect. No one is influenced to follow someone whose commitment is questionable.

Three steps for following through, no matter how busy you are:

  1. Focus and Execute. STOP procrastinating and just do it! Instead of engaging in unproductive hallway chit-chat or Facebook stalking, focus on what needs to be accomplished every hour. Put your energy into responding to emails, phone calls and project delivery dates rather than fighting with time.
  2. 15-Minute Increments. In her book, Folding Timeproductivity expert Neen James offers unlimited and valuable recommendations. I rely on one in particular each day: By breaking down my day into 15-minute increments, I can follow through in a timely. You’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish when you focus on completing tasks every 15 minutes rather than getting overwhelmed with a full day of to-do’s.
  3. Avoid Double-Dipping. The majority of us receive hundreds of email messages a day. Take action on an email immediately rather than reading it, skipping over it and procrastinating on it. When I receive a message, I take action within 24 hours. My clients should NEVER have to wait for me to respond, and neither should your listeners. Even if you don’t have an answer for them immediately, take two seconds to at least let them know you’re working on their request.

My father had sage advice that he drilled into my sisters and me: “Be in a part of the top 1% by following through.”

We want to hear from you. What strategies do you commit to for following through?

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