Meetings can be soul-sucking, mind-numbing exercises in triviality robbing you of quality time to do real, productive work. But whether they are or not, you’re probably not going to be able to get out of them – at least not all of them. Here are a few tips for managing your calendar so meetings don’t destroy your efforts to get things done.
The tips here aren’t startling news, but busy people — like you — are often moving so fast that time isn’t taken to implement ideas like these. Slow down just a couple of minutes to think about and execute these ideas and your schedule will be more manageable.
Schedule travel time on your calendar. Whether you have to get in your car or just the elevator in order to get to your next appointment, schedule adequate time to make the trip. If in your car, calculate realistically how long the trip should take from your office to the meeting room including getting out of or into garages, traffic at that time of day, etc. Ideally you want to be wherever you’re headed at least a few minutes ahead of time so you can collect your thoughts…and even better, be breathing normally.
Meet virtually and avoid travel time entirely.
Schedule meetings for 50 minutes, instead of one hour. This way, meetings scheduled on the hour or half hour allow for a 10-minute buffer. Those 10 minutes can be used to make notes to yourself about what you just committed to do or items on which you need to follow up from the meeting you just ended. You can also use some of those minutes to shift your focus to the agenda of the next meeting.
Block time on your calendar. If other people have access to your calendar and can book meetings whenever it appears you’re available, make certain you block out time for your most important tasks so those times are unavailable. If a meeting is critical enough and you appear unavailable the organizer will call you to see if this blocked time can be moved. You can determine, on a case by case basis, whether the meeting or your important task takes precedence.
Schedule even shorter meetings. If attendees are focused enough, could you accomplish in just 15 minutes what you need to get done? Can you have the meeting standing up? Every minute you save during a busy day is a minute you can put to better use, even if that use is coming to a complete stop to clear your mind and reassess your priorities.
You’ve heard me say it before; small changes make differences over time. Try one or more of these and let me know how it goes. I’d love to hear from you!