How to Manage Your Meetings More Effectively

I believe self worth is at the heart of good time management, you must treat yourself like a star performer. You must maintain your self esteem and be prepared at times to admit, "Well actually, I did not read the latest report on blah blah blah.... perhaps you could fill me in..."

Aristotle said, "Thinking requires leisure time," and if you are always chasing something then there is not a lot of thinking going on. I pride myself in not being aware of all things, besides, it allows for me to shine the limelight on someone else and for them to appear more knowledgeable. "Please bring me up to speed." I counter. Why don't you consider adopting this stance? It certainly works for me.

Begin at the end:
When do you finish work? Set an hour to leave work and follow it blindly. This departure time in non-negotiable. If you normally work till 18.00 then move your leaving time to 17.00 and stick to it religiously. If you normally take work home then stop it! Your sanity and happiness depends upon it. Create a 90-day plan to cut back and put in place this now work plan.

Paper surfing:
Read through all the documents on your desk with the three categories in your mind. You are seeking to create three piles according to their importance.

Priority Items, Delegation Items, Reading Items:
The priority category is for three tasks only. Identify the three key documents that require your personal attention.
The next category is for the less important items. As you sort apply the Pareto Rule of 80:20. It will most likely evolve that 20% of this paperwork is best handled by you. The remaining 80% can be delegated to others or with shared responsibility.

The final reading category can be a black hole for many in terms of managing time efficiently. It consists of magazine, journals, newspapers, reports and memos. Only work on this area when all the others are completed and perhaps allocate to travelling time. Trains and plans are ideal locations for clearing this group.

Delete and shred:
I had a call from a client who had just come back from a week's holiday to an full inbox and in-tray. Mike groaned, "What should I do? There are 41 emails from one association alone." My response? "What would happen if you delete them?" "Could I?" he asked in disbelief. "Well if you don't tremble, feel physically sick and short of breath why not?" I retorted - the power of the delete button! "What is the worst thing that can happen if you delete them all?" Treat your in-tray in similar fashion and throw out the bulk of it. And make the shredder your new best friend? Consider outsourcing your shredding if you are an SMS.

Out to lunch?
Think hard about accepting offers to lunch and networking events. Be very selective. Participate only in those things that will give a positive return on your valuable time. Suggest meetings take place take at your office and serve filtered water as opposed to tea or coffee. Keep things on a business footing if you wish to get more done. Water is the healthy option too.

Having spent four years in public office as an elected member, I have had my fair share of meetings to attend. Many of them were poorly run and although I enjoyed meeting my colleagues and being sociable I often left feeling I had just wasted valuable time.

Have you felt this way about meetings too? I am sure you have.
Here The Confidence Coach meeting guidelines:
1. Start of time -as soon as you have a few people there then get started - latecomers will soon get the message.
2. As you start, set a finishing time and do not overrun by more than a couple of minutes.
3. Go over the agenda with everyone. List the most important items and deal with them first. Resist the temptation to deal with the easiest ones to get the agenda cleared.
4. Delegate items that may drag on a bit, to two or three individuals. They can then resolve and come back with a concise report.
5. Establish a two hour deadline: People can only concentrate for so long and two hours depletes even the most stout hearted and seasoned meeting goers.
6. Meeting reports must be short. No PowerPoint. Never turn out the lights! Snoring will follow!
7. Meetings should not be interrupted. Draw up your own strict guidelines.
8. Transform as many meetings as possible into:

A Telephone call
A Meeting in the hall
A Meeting at the copier
A Telephone call
A Fax resume

9. Telephone calls: Again create your own rules.
10. Think tank:
Schedule time for you to think. Stay at home perhaps? Allow regular time to float ideas in your mind.

Power snooze:
Allow time to take a power nap. While small children typically take naps in the afternoon, many western cultures frown upon mid-day sleep; unless of course you are Spanish and take a siesta. Many people experience a natural increase in drowsiness in the afternoon; usually about eight hours after waking. Research shows that you can make yourself more alert, reduce stress and improve cognitive functioning with a nap. Midday or power-napping means more patience, better reaction time, increased learning, more efficiency and better health.
Famous converts to the power nap - Winston Churchill, Bill Clinton and Lance Armstrong.

And both my father and Aristotle would approve...

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