Whether you are in business for yourself, or you are an employee, you will be beset by time-wasters. Of the many people in the world, a good proportion fall into this category. Time-wasters drain your energy, contribute no value to your life, and upset your serenity. They are everywhere. To get the most out of your life, it’s not enough to take positive action to do good things. You also need to take action to avoid negative things. Avoiding something bad is just as productive as doing something good. We often forget this fact. We devote a great deal of attention to the one, and hardly any attention to the other.
Suppose you run your own office, or manage a consulting firm, or do any sort of service job. You will become intimately acquainted with time-wasters. From my experience, time-wasting people fall in several categories.
1. The Explorer. The explorer is a person who comes to your office out of a general and vague desire to get a “lay of the land” and a feel for the landscape. He has no intention of hiring you to do anything. What he wants is go get general information. He suspects that he needs to take action to solve his problem, but he isn’t really ready to take the plunge. He wants to explore. And he wants to use your time and energy to do it.
The Explorer likes to ask a lot of questions. He will sit in your office all day, if you let him, and he’ll spin one hypothetical after another. Surprisingly enough, the Explorer will often be honest about his explorations, thinking that you actually care.
As soon as you sense that you are in the company of an Explorer, end the dialogue and show him the door. Your time is valuable.
2. The Price-Shopper. This a sub-variant of the Explorer, but he has a ruthless, more desperate feel to him. He knows he needs to do something, but he wants to make his decision purely based on price. He has done all of his bullshit research in one internet website or another, and thinks he knows more than you about what he needs.
He just wants to low-ball you until you can match the price of Starving Marvin down the road. No matter how much you try to tell him that “you get what you pay for,” he doesn’t care or doesn’t really believe it.
Know what your worth. Know the market. And quote the Price-Shopper your price. Not his price. Your price. Remember, things cost what they cost. They don’t cost what the Price-Shopper wants them to cost.
3. The Rage-aholic. This is someone who comes to your office to fight with you. He’s a real prick. He feels screwed over by the world. He knows he needs help, but doesn’t want to deal with his problems. Instead, he wants to blame you for his problems. It’s your fault that he’s in this mess.
4. The Excessive Questions Warrior. This is sort of a hybrid of the Explorer and Price-Shopper. This is a neurotic, high strung type who want to ask a lot of bullshit questions, and have you run through a lot of hypotheticals that lead nowhere. He wants a security blanket more than anything. The problem is that he is neurotic, and no matter what you tell him, it only prompts more questions.
5. The Second Opinion Warrior. This is a person who already has hired someone to do a job, but wants to pimp you out for more information or a “second opinion.” He usually conceals this fact. But eventually, during the conversation, something will slip. He generally can’t resist bad-mouthing the person he has already hired, in the hope that you take the bait and jump in to solve his problems.
6. The Hopeless. This is a person who would like help, is sincere, and gives every indication of wanting to use you. The only problem is that he’s broke. Totally broke. And there’s nothing he can or will do about it.
7. The Know It All. This is the type of person who has an opinion for everything under the sun. Just ask him. He thinks he’s your equal in the field that you work in or are knowledgeable about. He will try to engage you in ill-informed dialogue about the subject matter. And you know what? He’s always wrong. Always. This person is living proof of the adage that “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.”
8. The Complainer. This person just wants you to listen to his whiny bullshit. He already knows what he needs to do to solve his problems. But he won’t do it. Because he is a chickenshit, or he lacks the readiness to move in the right direction. These people can be huge energy-drainers. Avoid them at all costs.
9. The Wacko. A certain percentage of people out there are just not equipped to deal with life. They are completely wacked-out. They are socially uncalibrated freaks. Get away from them before they cause you problems.
These, then, are the general categories of Time-Wasters. Avoid them. Remember what we said earlier: avoiding bad things is just as important as doing good things.
Kindness is important. But it’s just as important to know whom to extend your kindnesses to. Not every stray cat or dog is worth your attentions.
Do not feel guilty about not returning their calls, blowing them off, or getting them out of your field of vision. Remember, your time is valuable. And if you don’t use it for yourself, someone will use it for you.
The choice is yours.