I don’t know about you, but I’m celebrating all day today!
Why? Because it’s leap year.
This one day, every four years, we are gifted with 24 extra potential-filled hours. What will you do with yours? Some possibilities:
Fold the laundry you left in the dryer yesterday.
Bake a cake.
Fall in love.
Paint a bedroom.
Start preparing your tax return.
Attend a few extra business meetings.
Can you hear the needle screeching across the vinyl disc on that last one? Yeah, I don’t think anyone really wants to attend more meetings than necessary. But, that’s exactly what this blog is about. Meetings. Specifically, personal time management in meetings.
As most of you know punctuality is a high, HIGH priority for me. I believe it’s a sign of respect for one’s self and toward others. I know I sound like Miss Manners right now; but, if you think about it, time is the single most precious commodity that we all share. I can make more money, but time…no siree! And, the last thing I want to hear when I’m waiting for a phone call, or holding a table in busy restaurant, is…”Sorry, I’m late. I had a meeting that ran over.” Uggghhhh!
So, let’s talk about some ways this whole debacle can be avoided for the benefit of both you and me (or whomever you’ve made a commitment to):
- When scheduling meetings (whether in person or via telephone), allow ample time for the meeting to take place. If the meeting is scheduled for one hour but you NEVER get out of there in less than an hour-and-a-half, schedule for the longer time period. (It’s just a reality that some folks are poor time managers and meetings sometimes run longer than hoped.)
- If possible allow at least a 15-minute buffer between commitments. (This gives you a chance to take a breath, regroup, use the restroom, or grab your next cup of coffee.)
- Be on time. This should go without saying, but please do your best to be punctual whether or not anyone else shows up on time. (Using the “But, everyone else does it” excuse just perpetuates bad behavior across the board. Plus, it’s one of the leading causes for #1, above.)
- Announce your hard stop. If you know you have scheduled another time-sensitive commitment adjacent to the current meeting, announce it before the meeting begins. “Hey guys, I have a hard stop at 1:15 for a call I need to attend. So, I’ll excuse myself at that time.” (Rarely will anyone roll their eyes or get upset.)
- If you have reporting to do, ask the group moderator if you can do your sharing toward the beginning of the meeting. (That way you won’t be leaving before your valuable input has been disbursed to the group.)
- Get out of Dodge! Once you’ve stated your hard stop time, honor it. Don’t hang out when you’ve already claimed that you needed to leave. (Sticking around teaches others that you really didn’t mean it. It also damages your credibility.)
- IF the meeting is running over, and you ABSOLUTELY CAN’T LEAVE for some very good reason (like you’ll get fired if you do); then excuse yourself briefly and make a call or send an email to your next commitment to explain the delay. (Don’t just blow them off. I mean really…how would you feel if you were the one waiting for the call or sitting in the restaurant?)
In this day and age, everything is moving so fast that we’ve practically defined a personal brand called “Busy”. In some circles it’s perceived as sign of success and status. But, is it really?
I believe that one of the greatest ways we can establish ourselves as both a consummate professional and an integrity-filled human being is by showing others that we respect them and value their time. After all, there are only so many hours in a day and days in a year. Right?