I can remember the old days when my dad kept a Daily Planner on his desk with his appointments penciled in for the day. He is incredibly efficient and one of the best at following up that I know (to this day). With teams spread across multiple floors, sites, states, or continents, the paper method does not work anymore without an army of assistants to keep it all straight. So instead, we use the calendar functions in our electronic devices to keep our day’s straight.
Just like with any network-enabled system, there is some etiquette required to make it useful.
- If you accept a meeting, BE THERE ON TIME. If you can’t be there, let the organizer know as far in advance as you can so he has the opportunity to reschedule (i.e., not two minutes before the meeting starts).
- Know people’s time zones. Don’t set meetings up for times outside of normal business hours without checking with that person first.
- Send an agenda. This lets people know what to expect, how to prepare, and will help the timekeeper keep the meeting on track (and end early if everyone is prepared). I have started declining meetings that do not have agendas for them. Meeting for the sake of meeting is called “Happy Hour,” and doing that in an office without a pint is blasphemous.
- Attach any pre-reading required to the meeting invite. Let people show up to the meeting prepared.
- Choose the right time. When you look for a time to schedule the meeting thanks to corporate calendaring, be sure to pick a time that is open for all (or for the critical attendees). More complex topics should be discussed in the morning while people are fresh.
- Don’t send an email with date/time for a meeting, send a calendar invite. If it doesn’t end up on my calendar, I’m going to miss it. So help me out by giving it to me in a format that lets me do a single click to get it there.
- Keep your own calendar up to date. There is nothing more frustrating than scheduling a meeting when someone is open on their calendar and then getting a reply that says they are not. You can also set your calendar to drop any to-be-accepted calendar invites as Tentative until you have a chance to get to them, thus warning anyone who is trying to set up a meeting.
- Consider using an external scheduling service. I personally use Doodle to help manage my calendar so that if I am coordinating with people outside of my company, they can schedule time on my calendar when I am free.
- Decline/delegate any meeting invite that does not require your time. Your time is valuable, don’t waste it flicking through Instagram during your meeting.
- Set buffers between meetings, and schedule for the time required. Not every meeting requires an hour, and you might want a few minutes to document action items or notes from the meeting.
Most of all, you need to trust the system. If you put all of your meetings and appointments into a calendar somewhere, you will know where you need to be at any given point of the day with a flick of your thumb. Guess what, TV and YouTube have rotted your brain. You can’t remember everything like you used to. Accept it and TRUST YOUR SYSTEM.
As an aside, there are tons of tips for running meetings (like stand-ups, no electronics, and more), so you may want to go check those out if you are not familiar with some of the popular methods to conduct them. Check your favorite productivity site for those.
Up next, motivating co-workers to help you!