This year I’ve been working on being on-time to both personal events and business meetings. Here are the top 5 tactics I have adopted that have been most helpful.
Plan for travel time
If a meeting is at 9am, and it takes 15 minutes to get there, go ahead and give yourself another 15 minutes of padding, especially in the morning. In the unlikely event you get there early, check and reply to voicemails, emails, or read that article you saved with Evernote. I’m writing this blog entry on my iPad because I was blessed with little traffic and thus had an extra 15 minutes.
Schedule time for before and after the meeting
Now that you have given yourself an extra 15 minutes of travel time padding go ahead and put that travel to and from time into your calendar. Also, add some time at the end of the meeting for follow-up. Plan to type up those notes immediately following the meeting when everything is still fresh in your memory. As a rule of thumb, every 1 hour meeting requires 15 minutes of follow-up.
In other words, a 2 hr meeting 15 minutes away really requires 2 hours for the meeting, 30 minutes to comfortably commute, and 30 minutes in follow-up. Yes, that means a 2 hour meeting will actually require 3 hours in your calendar! Try it — you will be amazed how exact this is — and maybe help you realize how much you should avoid unecessary meetings and commuting whenever possible.
Have a hard stop time
At your next meeting, once you actually start the meeting, suggest a hard stop time 10 minutes earlier than the stated meeting end-time. Set an alarm on your phone to make sure this occurs. You will use this 10 minutes to summarize follow-up items, say your goodbyes, and schedule the next meeting. Additionally, I have found that meetings that are “under the clock” stay more focused and to task.
Schedule a walk and exercise
Scheduling exercise is an exercise in scheduling! I use this time to reflect on the day, or maybe just to zone out and get engaged with my activity like cycling. Some of my best ideas have come from serendipity while cycling. My wife and I schedule to walk nightly to a nearby dog-park to play catch with the dogs. The dogs let off some pent-up puppy power, we get to focus on each other (no phone interruptions while jogging!), and we get to burn a could hundred calories. In other words, instead of catching up over ketchup, we catch up over catch!
I have found that I perform optimally with 8 hours for sleep. I can go on less for a day or two — sometimes even 4-5 hours — but any longer or less and my mental and physical performance suffers, let alone my ability to deal with stress.
I track my sleep, and if I see a string of 6s I know a 10 is coming up. I’ve even learned to listen to my body and don’t turn on an alarm. The best thing I can do is get to sleep as early as possible, sometimes even 7pm.
Have I become an on-time person?
The biggest challenge I’ve faced with these new approaches to being on-time is that I’m actually more likely to be on time, but most people will still be late. In addition, clocking a meeting can come off as jarring the first few times, and I’m working on introducing this more smoothly. However, being able to not stress about being late, coming into a meeting focused and attentive, having the energy to sustain attention, and not running from meeting to meeting is well worth it!