With a wife, three kids and responsibilities as CEO of a fast-growing company, I've gradually learned time is a more valuable asset than any other. I do everything in my power to use it wisely. But since I genuinely like people and enjoy their company, I often find myself going off the beaten path in conversations, not always to the benefit of my business sense.
For me, it takes discipline to stay on topic, and it's always important to remember the value of time. In the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad, there is a quote to make sure to "pay yourself first." When I first read it, I thought author Robert Kiyosaki was referring to money; now, through my personal prism, I think of it in terms of time. I've figured out that if I pay myself back with time, it will be the best savings account I could possibly have.
Stop the blah blah blahs.
In the past, I would be on a call and the person on the other line would do the typical blah blah blah, and I would happily engage; next thing you know, an hour is gone. Boom. Now I try not to. It's not that I don't want to get to know people. I do. But I also want to understand why I am on the call. So when you get asked about your local sports team or how the weather is, try not to engage too deeply in the blah blah blahs; focus on getting to the point of the conversation.
Stay away from people who do not value time as an asset.
Because I am a gatherer of information, I have been known for asking way too many questions. But as I have gotten older, I have less time – greater family obligations, more professional commitments, fewer minutes overall on the cosmic clock. It's hard for me, but I've had to discipline myself to avoid individuals who do not value my time. I'm not talking personally here; my friends in my life outside of business are there for leisure, for lingering. And I will never change my behavior when I have an opportunity to help others. But professionally, I try to honor the value of my professional time by using it wisely with people who are prepared to have a valuable conversation.
Plan out time every day.
Motion is not progress. It is critical that you are completely honest with yourself on the best way to spend your time. Be frugal with it, plan it and reflect on it at the end of your day.
Be honest with those around you.
A good friend of mine boards every plane, looks to the person next to him and says in his lovely British accent, "I do not mean to be rude to you, but I do not enjoy spending my time on planes talking." Though I could never do that, it always makes me laugh when he tells this story; at least he is honest and sets the right expectations so nobody feels uncomfortable (after that first exchange, anyway).
So don't be afraid to get right to the point in business conversations. If everyone did this more often, we would all be able to bank more time for the future. Or spend our true leisure time with our family and friends who know us and love us best.
Dan Khabie is CEO of San Diego-based Digitaria and this post originally appeared on LinkedIn, where he is an influencer.