Do you find it difficult to stay on schedule?
Does it seem as if no matter what you do, your calendar and appointments just run away from you?
Sometimes, you need to pull out all the stops to make sure you stay true to the schedule you’ve laid out for yourself.
In this post, I offer seven clever and creative ways to make sure you stick to your schedule.
Choose your tools with care.
Stay focused by only having on hand those tools, materials, or notes you need for meetings or appointments.
You won’t be distracted by irrelevant material, can give your full attention to the matter and hand, and you guessed it, end the meeting on time.
Just think about it…if you only have your meeting notes and a pen with you in a conference room, you can’t be distracted by your chirping smart phone, now can you?
Honor appointments with yourself.
A casual acquaintance asks you, “Are you available to meet on Saturday at 2:30 P.M.?” The only thing is that you’ve already scheduled some time for yourself to work on your resume and job hunt. Should you cave in or keep your meeting with yourself? Definitely the latter!
All you have to say is, “Thanks, but no thanks, I have an appointment at that time.” Yes, you have an appointment with yourself, but you’re not lying. You do have an appointment, you are meeting with someone, and that someone special is you! Please keep this in mind: no one else is going to look out for you and your best interests when it comes to your schedule; you’ve got to honor your own time.
Purposefully ask someone to interrupt you.
This is a clever and effective stay-on-schedule technique. Now, this technique should be used sparingly, as too many uses can make things a little bit awkward.
Let’s say you’re meeting with someone at your office from 10 A.M. to 11 A.M. You’ve met with this person countless times before, and they have the annoying habit of talking on and on about any and all subjects for hours at a time. Oh, by the way, you have an urgent meeting at 11:30 A.M. What to do?
Ask a trusted colleague or associate to either stop by or call you on the phone a few minutes before your meeting is set to end, say, at 10:55 AM. They can say you have a call on the telephone, someone needs to review some figures with you for a report due today, and so on.
Set an hourly chime on your cellphone.
Years ago, people didn’t have smartphones, cell phones, or wrist or pocket watches to help them tell the time. They instead relied on the town hall, church, or clock tower in order to tell the time. One chime means it’s one o’clock, two chimes means two o’clock, and so on.
Set a similar habit by setting your cellphone or smart phone to a good old-fashioned church chime, and set an alarm to go off at the top of every hour. This will help you pay attention to the passage of time. At the very least, you should look up from your work to see what hour it is.
Make a meeting checklist.
Studies have shown that handwriting notes helps you to better retain information. Why not apply this to your schedule?
At the start of each day, pull out a piece of paper and quickly write down the meetings you have to attend that day, along with the meeting times for each, in chronologic order. Tape your list to the front of your paper planner, notebook, or on the top of your desk, or on a wall. The act of writing the meetings down will help cement the information into your mind.
Review your list at the top and bottom of the hour. When you’ve successfully held and finished a meeting, simply cross it off the list, and take stock of the remaining meetings for the day.
FEEL FANTASTIC ABOUT YOUR SCHEDULE.
The Order Expert’s Guide to Time Management is a hands-on workbook that provides practical solutions to common, everyday time management problems.
Practice conscious avoidance.
This technique requires you to pay careful attention to your actions and their outcomes. Everyone, and I mean everyone, has an idea of the type of actions that can ultimately wreak havoc with their schedule. What actions in your regular routine cause certain, predictable, and sometimes time-sucking outcomes?
For example, if you know walking by a certain coworker’s desk will lead to a half an hour of chatting about the game you watched last night on TV, avoid walking by their desk, and speak with them at lunchtime.
Likewise, if you know driving past your favorite coffee shop in the morning will inevitably lead you to get out of the car and leisurely enjoy a medium latte and honey bun (thereby making you late to work), opt to continue on driving, and grab a coffee at the office instead.
Purposefully end meetings early.
One of the cleverest things you can do with time, is to purposefully end your meetings early, anywhere from five to ten minutes. Now, this isn’t a call to be sloppy or slap-dash in your presentation and general way of doing business. Rather, it’s about honing your meeting or presentation to the finest, purest level.
So, what items can you cut from your meetings? What’s necessary? Unnecessary? What’s old news? What’s useless information? What’s on a need-to-know basis?
Once you get rid of all that excess fluff, you’ll find you won’t need nearly as much time as you once thought. Besides, everyone will thank you for running an effective, practical, and time-saving meeting!
How about you? Do you find it challenging to stay on schedule? What techniques have worked for you in past? Which of the above techniques are you going to try out? Join the conversation and leave a comment below!