According to the Wall Street Journal, white collar workers waste an average of 40% of their workday. Not because they aren’t smart, but because they were never taught organizing skills to cope with the increasing workloads and demands of the modern workplace. Wall Street Journal, 2005

One way to cope with these increasing demands is by scheduling your time well, including appointments. We all have appointments but we all don’t take the time to remember to schedule all the parts of the appointment in our calendars.

If we will take time to schedule all phases of an appointment and prepare for the actual appointment, we will reduce stress and gain efficiency at the same time.

According to Susan Lannis of ORGANIZATION Plus, there are five parts to scheduling an appointment. Many people I work with do not consider each part of an appointment when scheduling their work day and as a result get into a time crunch more often than not due to this oversight. Let’s briefly discuss each part.

Prep Time

Look over your notes from previous meetings.

Do all participants have the information they need to prepare for this meeting?

Are you responsible for any follow up information?

If so, do you have the follow up information available?

Will this information be clear to others?

Can you present the new information in an interesting, clear and concise way to the person or group?

Will you use handouts? Did you print the appropriate number of them?

Are they ready to deliver to the group?

Is the PP projector set up, and/or the laptop ready with all current and needed information?

Do you have the power strip and cord that are needed if the laptop battery fails?

When technology fails, can you still conduct a productive meeting that will not waste other’s time? What will it take in order to conduct the meeting without the technology? Do you have all the materials ready and printed in the right amounts in case this happens?

Travel to the Appointment

How much time will this take?

Is it a walk down the hall or is outside transportation involved?

Have you allowed for delays in your travel time? Remember, even a “short” meeting in the hall or an added stop along the way may prevent you from arriving on time.

The Appointment

Remember to begin AND end on time “always.” This practice will set a good example for others.

Harold Taylor has some good suggestions regarding meetings:

a)Enlist the participation of the quieter members

b)Encourage constructive criticism only

c) Time each item and stick to the schedule as closely as possible

d)Inject Team Spirit – not competitiveness

e)Do not allow people to wander off topic

f)Give a summary of the action they have to take as a result of the meeting

g)Schedule the next meeting while everyone is present

Return Travel

How much time with this take?

Any possible delays or distractions?

Debrief Time

This is probably just as important as the time spent in preparation for the meeting; however it is often the most overlooked part of a meeting. Instead of walking back to your desk and dropping everything from the meeting on the chair, or the corner of the desk to deal with it “later”, take time now to compile your notes, put away handouts, schedule assigned tasks, and make follow up plans for various items discussed and assigned.

Break each portion of a new project into manageable steps.

Be realistic and delegate when possible.

Remember meetings, like projects, expand to fill available time; so schedule the meeting time properly and stick to the schedule. The people you work with will appreciate it when you show that you value their time by managing company meetings well.