Ensuring Productive Appointments
One of the best aspects of appointments is that we can prepare for them vs. drop-in visitors or catch-as-catch-can encounters. These ten productivity tips will help you do the prep work ahead of time that allow your appointments to be effective, efficient, and productive for you and those with whom you are meeting.
- Call and/or email prior to the appointment to confirm. It takes a couple of minutes and may save you a couple of hours or more if the other person forgets or needs to reschedule.
- Arrive and/or be ready on time (and this means planning to arrive early if you are traveling to an appointment). With the prevalence of Zoom meetings, make sure you log on a few minutes early if you’re the host and even show up for a meeting a couple of minutes early when someone else is hosting.
- Expect that you will might have to wait, so have something to read (an actual book or Kindle on your phone, for example). Be careful if it’s a Zoom meeting that you don’t use the time to be immersed in email or some other type of work that could easily shift your energy away from the focus of the appointment you’re getting ready to have. And guess what? It’s OK when you’re waiting (in person or virtually) to sit and think. Imagine that?!
- Determine your questions, issues, or goals for the appointment. Write them down. Do I need to repeat that last sentence? How about if you simply read it again.
- Find out how much time the other person has. Regardless of whether this has been set ahead of time, verify the time right at the beginning of the appointment. It may help to use the timer on your phone to give a soft chime when it’s nearly time to wrap up. This lets you focus on the purpose of the meeting instead of worrying about the time.
- Determine how much time you have. Make that clear to the other person, too. The point is that everyone is clear on how much time so it can be allotted strategically.
- Agree on an agenda ahead of time (or at the beginning of the appointment). People think of agendas for meetings, but an appointment with one other person is also a meeting. Have an agenda.
- Meet where there are no (or limited) distractions (e.g., phone, email, drop-ins). Although the pandemic demonstrated that people can still have an appointment with someone WITH interruptions, it also demonstrated the stress and strain of nearly constant interruptions. Do what you can to minimize disruptions.
- Set up the environment for productivity (close door, ask that phones be turned off). Demonstrate that you’re putting your phone over to the side and face down with notifications turned off, for example.
- Have the tools you need to be productive (your planner, some place to take notes, a timer so you don’t have to keep checking your watch).
Well-planned and productively-used appointments make tremendous sense for you and for your colleagues. Put one or more of these ideas into practice this week…maybe even within the next hour. Share these ideas with your colleagues, too. You (and they) will appreciate it! If these practices are a culture shift, that’s OK! Many folks are shifting their work cultures at this time. Surely we’ve learned something in the last couple of years!