Your Personal Effectiveness Program (Part 1 – Be On Time)

How’s it going? Tired of being held hostage in your own home? I mean, working remotely? Fun, isn’t it? No. It’s not, but it’s what we have to do right now.

So, let’s think about making the best of our situation. Let’s look at some ways you can become a little more effective in your daily work.

Today you begin your journey to improve your Personal Effectiveness. And by this I mean, getting more of the stuff you want to get done in less time, and with less stress.

Sounds like a good deal, right? Ok, let’s get started.

Most people like to talk about time management, but let’s face it, we can’t really manage time. There are only twenty-four hours in a day. And it ticks away and it ticks us off when it’s gone. But that’s no excuse for not getting stuff done. The key is to devise triggers and shortcuts to increase your personal effectiveness within those twenty-four hours.

Over the next five articles, we will explore five areas that will help you be more effective and more efficient in your everyday work. Those five topics are:

  1. Being on time to appointments and meetings
  2. Getting more stuff done quicker
  3. Taming your email inbox
  4. Staying action oriented
  5. Prioritizing your task list

Let’s not waste any more time.

We’ll start with being on time to appointments and meetings.

Being on time is the most important part of personal effectiveness because of the ripple effect it creates.

When you are late to an appointment or meeting, you create a wake of inefficiency. Obviously, you jeopardize your own schedule, but you cut into other people’s time as well.

But the efficiency destruction doesn’t stop there. When you find yourself running late, you start a flow of distracting thoughts and stress hormones that keep you from performing at your highest level.

Not a good way to work and certainly not a good way to enter a meeting.

Of course, once you do finally arrive to the meeting, you find that your more thoughtful planners are stewing and stressing, and not too fond of your fashionable lateness. So much for a pleasant and productive meeting. (It’s all downhill from here.)

Well, of course it’s not all doom and gloom. People are resilient and are probably used to your habitual lateness anyway. And so they quickly move on to the business at hand (or worse yet, they might even ignore you, since you’re “always” late and they just don’t care anymore).

But had you been on time, this meeting could be shorter, more focused, and much more efficient.

You being late all the time might be
a big reason people hate meetings
in the first place.

So, let’s look at four ways you ensure you’re a little more timely to your appointments and meetings. PLAN on it!

PUT IT IN YOUR CALENDAR. Set all appointments and meetings into your calendar. I know this sounds like a no-brainer. Bear with me. Whether it is paper or electronic, get it into a calendar, so you can visualize it. And if you can, categorize your meetings by color.

Your brain loves color and those colors help it make shortcuts, improving recognition and recall. Give your brain every opportunity to be more efficient. Let your subconscious do the mundane work (like remembering calendar items), so you can focus on more creative and critical thinking (like how to convince your boss you deserve a big raise*).

LOOK OVER THE AGENDA. Continuing the topic of preparation, make it a point to allow yourself ample time to review the agenda and prepare for your meeting. Sometimes you have to print documents or gather materials.

When this is the case, add a pre-meeting reminder 15-30 minutes before the actual meeting reminder. That way you will have plenty of time to get yourself prepped, printed, and ready for your presentation.

If you don’t have a lead role in the meeting, it is still a good idea to create a pre-meeting reminder, so you can review any materials that were sent ahead of time. If there are no preview materials, you can still plan for the meeting by doing some quick research on the meeting topic.

Preparation always makes you look better.

ASSUME THERE WILL BE DELAYS. Don’t forget about travel time. This one is easy to overlook. We take it for granted, and we typically miscalculate. I know it sounds silly, but estimate the amount of time it will take you to get from your desk to the meeting place.

Even if the meeting is simply down the hall or on another floor, be sure to add a little buffer for hallway interruptions and side trips.

You just might decide to grab a cup of coffee or water on the way, and you bump into Phil from Accounting, and before you know it, you’ve just lost five minutes, aaannd you’re late. Womp womp.

If, on the other hand, your meeting is across town, you’ll want to map it out with Google maps or your favorite mapping app. Be sure to allow extra time for traffic, bad weather, and possible construction, otherwise known as that thing that happens every time you’re in a hurry to get somewhere.

NEGOTIATE YOUR WORKLOAD. Be realistic about your current task. If you’re working on a big spreadsheet or massive project, try to take a brain break every once in a while to keep you mind fresh, and remember to check your calendar before diving back in to your work.

If you see that your meeting starts in twenty minutes and you know it takes ten minutes to get there, don’t go back into your work. You will most likely lose track of time and try to finish just one last thing, and before you know it, you’re hitting the snooze button for the third time. Aaannd you’re late. Again.

It is always better to be five minutes early
than to be two minutes late.

You can always take notes and write ideas while you are waiting or use this time to reconnect with colleagues while waiting for the meeting to start. Both of these activities, (creativity and connectivity) reap you much bigger rewards than the hyperactivity of squeezing in a few more minutes of crunch time at your desk.

So let’s recap your four tips for getting to appointments and meetings on time.

  1. Put it in your calendar.
  2. Look over the meeting agenda.
  3. Assume there will be delays.
  4. Negotiate your workload.

With a little planning and a lot of practice, you’ll be a champ in your personal effectiveness program.

Next time, we will tackle your filing system to get more stuff done quicker.

Your Mindful Moment:

The best way to be on time, is to PLAN to be on time.

* Read Chapter 6 of Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss

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Jimmy Glenos is a Work/Life Performance Coach. He helps people achieve their biggest dreams, reach their highest energy, and attain total work/life fulfillment. With over 30 years of hospitality and health care experience, Jimmy brings deep knowledge and insight to help people lead at work and succeed in life.

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