The Noise

The single biggest threat to HR pros ever being strategic is lousy time management skills.

Declarative sentence over… allow me to build the case.

Noise in holding us back. The effing noise in particular. Real strategic thinking and/or doing takes time. Time is a commodity and most HR folks don’t have. Noise management is a personal pursuit… meaning, what works for you might not work for another HR pro… so tailor your approach accordingly. What is noise you ask?

Email – objectively review your email from the past week. How many emails did you automatically delete? You know, without even looking at them delete. A ton of them right? It could be worse actually; you could have given time to each one of them. That's a waste of time. Here's a suggestion… unsubscribe from everything. Everything. When you need to look something up… visit Google. You can always re-subscribe but my hope is that you'll enjoy getting less email. You’ll gain back some of your valuable time. Another strategy for getting your time back is using a different email address for newsletters and other types of email. I don't believe that strategy works as over time… you just visit it less and less or at all. Reclaim your inbox. IMHO, you should only be using email about 10% of your day. Let the culling begin.

Facebook – we all love Facebook but to argue that it isn't a huge time suck is like arguing that Tom Cruise isn't cray cray. Exhibit 1… couch Oprah = cray cray. The worst part of Facebook is that we allow dumb content to invade our minds. Either via friends or things that we've liked. To Facebook's credit they have allowed us to unsubscribe and/or filter all the content. So, spend some time getting your feed clean… filter out the dumb s#*t. Filter in the good stuff. The reason you should spend time doing this is simple… it will streamline your time with Facebook. You'll get all the good stuff without the dumbness and/or calories.

Twitter – I'm probably not a great example of what to do and what not to do via the Twitters but I can tell you that I primarily use lists as my feed in Twitter. Occasionally I use my main feed but only if I want to witness the randomness of life. Kinda like reading the YouTube comments… humanity devolved. I really enjoy the native Twitter application but when I want to follow conversations… I do so via hashtag and/or list mainly. This saves me time and keeps me sane. Also, like Facebook, you control who you follow. It's okay to love someone and yet not follow them via Twitter. I promise… the world will continue on. If someone is overtly religious, political, racist, sexist, explicit, etc etc etc… unfollow. Clean up your stream and stop wasting time. Lastly as relates to Twitter, I never read DM's… ever. Useless form of communication. If you need something from me, you know how to get me.

LinkedIn – the feed in LinkedIn is actually pretty good. It trends more professional than Facebook. For me, when I want snarky and sarcasm – I consume my cleaned up feed in Facebook. When I want gr

ownup content – I consume LinkedIn. Also, LinkedIn groups are great but I suggest you unsubscribe from emails from the groups you belong to. When you want content from that group… visit the group. Interact and have fun but you don't really need a daily or weekly email from them. You think you do… you know, to stay on top of it all… but, that's just a crutch. Get your time back; get back to adding real value at work. No one will think less of you because you discontinued your long standing relationship with a virtual group. No one will ever know. I promise.

Texting – people kill me with text messaging. As if that s#*t is really important. Just because someone text you… it doesn't mean you have to text them back. Like ever. Don't get me wrong… for quick questions texting and/or chat is great. Ex. Did we say 5 or 5:30 for the meeting? Boom boom. But having a full on conversation via text? A complete waste of time… you are kidding yourself if you don't get that.

Voicemail – I rarely answer the phone. Rarely. I like my calls schedule… where I can prepare beforehand and not waste a ton of time chit chatting about useless s#*t. Years ago I noticed a particular frustration welling up inside me… that I was the target of drive time calls for people. WTF. You're in traffic and want to kill some of your time by calling me and wasting mine. Fuck you. Or fuck me for answering. So, I don't. If you've ever tried to call me, then you've prolly got my voicemail. I break with tradition from time to time but if someone wastes my time… I'll never answer calls from them again. Fool me once but never twice. I like voicemail… I can paw my way through 10 voicemails in 2-3 minutes. Boom, I got my time back.

Employees – this is harder but worth it. We all work with noisy people. You know… employees that need to talk it out. Don't give up them just give them less of your time. For instance, Tim complains to your every two weeks about some random s#*t. His conversations usually last about 30 minutes. Find a way to make his conversations last 10 minutes. Find a way… lie if you have to… I don't care… but get out of useless conversations. Personally, I use the “I have to use the restroom” as my conversation ender. It's my way of pivoting out of a useless conversation. Ruthless. Yes. I am ruthless when it comes to my time. You should be as well.

I could keep going but you get the point. Think of time management as push versus pull. You've got all these inputs… and you control them all… change the game by taking control of these inputs… get your time back.

If you are an HR pro… do this simple exercise… how much of your time in any given week is spent on truly strategic initiatives? Whatever the number is… why is that number so low? My belief is simple… you don't have time to be truly strategic because your time is spent for you… if you agree, get your time back. Cut out the noise… rid yourself of the effing noise.

My motto for time management is quite simple… your emergency is NOT necessarily my emergency.


FOT Background Check

William Tincup
William is the President of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He’s written over 200 HR articles, spoken at over 150 HR & recruiting conferences and he’s conducted over 1000 HR podcasts. William prides himself on being easy to find on The Internet, Google him and connect with him via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. Not up to speed in the social media game? Reach out via email. William serves on the Board of Advisors for Talentegy, Wellocity, GlitchPath, Talent Ninja, Universum Americas, Engagedly, Echovate, VibeCatch, Continu, Hyphen, Bevy, Happie, RolePoint, Causecast, Work4Labs, Talent Tech Labs, and SmartRecruiters. He was previously an advisor to PeopleMatter (sold to Snagajob Q2 2016), Good.Co (sold to StepStone Q1 2016), Smarterer (sold to Pluralsight Q4 2014) and a board member of Chequed (merged to create OutMatch Q3 2015). William is a graduate of the University of Alabama of Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.


  1. Joel Passen says:

    Not a surprise, I agree with most of the advice here. However, I find LinkedIn “content” almost completely a waste of time. Now if I was still a recruiter, I would spend time rooting through my activity feed to see who has updated their skills or experience. These people are looking man! You know it.

    I have minimized my work “content” to 2 sources.
    1. Email is the absolute best way to communicate. Respond to the necessary, ignore the irrelevant. People on the irrelevant list get it pretty quickly. Send short direct email and receive short direct email. You can almost train people.
    2. I use Pulse for aggregating everything that I want to read for work (HR Tech news, HR articles, blogs like FOT). I have a pages dedicated to subjects that I am interested in that I read on my iPad and iPhone.

    On voice mail…..
    I don’t accept voice mail other than from my parents and my wife. I only leave voice mail for people that miss scheduled calls and for doctor’s offices. VM is inefficient and doesn’t allow anyone to get or receive enough content to allow for prioritization. My heart sinks when I see the red light on my desk phone or the icon on my iPhone. Like voice mail, cold calling is dead (another topic). They were married at one time and both have expired.

    On Twitter…..
    I have become a one directional, infrequent Twitter’r. It’s noise to me. I can’t cut through it and I can’t invest in it. For the people who know me, I don’t need anymore “Klout”. I am not sure that I need to be an influencer on Twitter. I am not willing to be profound enough in 140 characters to trend on Twitter. If I am missing something, tell me. I am open to suggestions one Twitter – what am I really missing?

    On Facebook….
    I like cats and kids as much as the next person. For me, I don’t mix cats and kids with work stuff. I am FB friends with old classmates, friends and people I think are cool. I am even friends with some people that I don’t think are cool but, I know I should still tolerate them. It’ ain’t for work until they give me a professional profile and take on LinkedIn.

    On employees…
    I lay ground rules with employees. I don’t hover over them or announce a meeting without notice. I send email to allow people time to craft a meaningful response. Folks know if I am busy and they respect my time and I respect theirs. I NEVER make my emergencies theirs and I expect the same.

    William meet me at Burbon and Branch at 6:30pm Monday. ’nuff said

  2. Alex Hagan says:

    Thanks for this post, it’s always good to have a reminder to focus on what’s important, but not urgent – and how many distractions we have in our working days. Totally agree with texting – send me an email if you don’t need an immediate response!

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