All you time robbers out there — you know who you are, and your victims likely know you, too. You have been caught before, but fail to cease your ways. You talk a cool, smooth game to reel in your prey. Well, we’re on to you.

  • Don't get bogged down in the tendency to fill time with nonsense.
  • Time robbers all have the same modus operandi. Learn to recognize it, and save yourself the headache.
  • It's OK to walk away and reclaim your productivity.

All you time robbers out there — you know who you are, and your victims likely know you, too. You have been caught before, but fail to cease your ways. You talk a cool, smooth game to reel in your prey. Well, we’re on to you.

It starts with bonding questions about family, kids or last night’s football game. It feels good when people ask about your life and seem genuinely to be interested in the answers.

We are usually too blind to notice the deception. Then, once in a while you hear about a piece of juicy office gossip from this person, in the vain of, “I don’t know if it’s true but did you hear that (fill in the blank).”

Of course, you will listen with interest because you’re not spreading it. Then it happens more and more, and before you know it, this person has taken an hour of your time. It all seems innocent.

But compounded, when you finally wake up, it was many hours of your time — time away from your work, your kids, your family.

When you first get time robbed, you don’t know what happened. Even the second, 10th or sometimes 100th time. You feel exhausted like you just ran a marathon.

But when you get trained to identify it, your brain will go off with sirens, and you will know when to run for the hills.

Here are a few things you need to realize to save your time:

1. It’s not you, it’s them.

These are people that make it their life mission to take as much time and energy from others that they can for survival. It’s fuel and energy for them, like a battery.

They find their victim, get them warm and cozy and eventually talk, talk, talk all day long about themselves and never ask a question about you and your issues of the day, and then leave you empty and confused.

It is an assault. If you realize that it’s all about them, their insecurities, their need for attention and the issues they have in their lives, you’ll begin to spot the time robbing much sooner.

2. They’re all the same.

These people typically are negative in nature, so while they are ranting on and on about their life issues, problems of other people you might not even know, they toss in a healthy dose of negativity about their lives, a situation about a common friend, and they try and bring you within their veil.

Like a spider luring you into their web, the closer you get, the more interest you show, the more you start to look like food and the greater chance you have of being swallowed up.

Starting with the first day you meet someone, feel out the negativity vibe because that impression will help you identify the time robber.

3. It’s OK to say goodbye.

The interesting thing about human beings is that in a lot of cases, one might feel guilty about ignoring or avoiding the negative influence. It’s human nature to be friendly and respectful.

Pushing people away is a difficult thing to do, and it’s much more difficult when you are in the process of getting lured into their web. It is OK to say no.

It’s OK to say you have to get back to work. It’s OK to tell that person you cannot carve out time for nonsense. The worst thing that could happen is that they never talk to you again, and you just saved 240 hours of your year that could be better spent doing something else.

When you follow these tips, you can identify someone as a time robber and remove them from your daily life. And when you later take some time away from this person, you begin to heal and get your focus and clarity back.

With that, you will be able to look at people and determine quickly whether they add or subtract value from your life.

Keep a watchful eye — your limited time on this planet is more valuable than you might think.

Jay Lieberman is a Broker Associate at Keller Williams World Class. You can reach him on Twitter @LiebermanJay or on Facebook at JayMichelleRealEstate.

Email Jay Lieberman.

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