To Have or To Not Have: A Coffee Chat

coffee-cup-funny-faceSmallIf there is one thing I have learned about the business world today it’s this: People are busy! Their calendars are jammed with meetings, either virtual or in-person. They are being asked to produce more with fewer resources. The bar for performance has been raised into the stratosphere, often accompanied by unrealistic expectations. It begs the question, “How do you use your time each day?”

Time is a precious commodity because there is a finite amount of it available to you. Every person is given 24 hours in one day, 60 minutes in each hour and 60 seconds in each minute. No more. No less. You choose what to do within that given time period every day. Some people handle their time more efficiently than others.

A great time vampire, if you let it be, is the coffee chat. It sounds like a simple request: “Let’s have coffee and chat.” If you are not careful and you don’t qualify the request, that time can quickly turn into this: “Let’s have coffee and chat and spend the entire time talking about me and what I need from you so that I can be more successful in my life.”

Don’t get me wrong. Having coffee with colleagues and chatting about something that is mutually meaningful is time well spent. When someone who you haven’t heard from in 5-10 years wants you to drop everything and have coffee and chat about what he wants to do with his life, then take the time and ask yourself “Is it worthy of me investing my time?”

This is not cold hearted. You are just trying to free up your schedule to do more of the things that you need to do rather than saying “Yes” to every request that comes your way. Here is a foolproof solution to these phantom requests: Have a conversation by phone rather than in person. Not having to drive to a location saves you about an hour round trip. Telephone conversations typically are much shorter than in-person conversations. What could consume two to three hours of your time is neatly reduced to 20-30 minutes. You get what you need, and so does the other person.

The next time someone requests coffee and a chat in person, think about the value of your time. Is it worth two to three hours or 20-30 minutes? The choice is yours.