Is this real? Is there such thing as a My Time during work days. In the recent months, since I got to be extremely busy – I am always stucked with back to back meeting. With these type of days – I am always forced to work late, and things piled up extremely fast. The moment I procrastinate or failed to finish a particular task, it gets delayed so long beyond comprehensible. So what do I do?
Well – My Time is a concept that I created such away that I create pockets of time in between different time of the days that exclusively for me. I won’t sit in meetings nor conference calls. I would just focus on the work at hand for my self. This is challenging – but we need to do this to avoid people from disturbing you during work days.
There are few things that I do to get My Time:
- Block 1 hour in the morning – exclusively for me to plan my day. I won’t attend any other calls nor meetings. This time usually is extremely early which is 8.00am – 9.00am. The time is officially blocked in my calendar.
- Block 1 hour for lunch in the afternoon – this is to ensure I have proper meal during the day. If I skip lunch – I will be f**ed.
- Block time to work on a particular task. To do list is great, but blocking your time allows you to manage your day better.
By doing the 3 things above, its just awesome. In addition to having My Time to do my own work, I will also able to judge my workload better by looking at the available time slots for me to do other things. Most days I get stuck with people blocking the whole day for meetings. Yes – it’s great, but if I don’t have time to work on it – no point also!!!
Since I join Accenture, I’ve been spending a lot of time running and attending conference calls. As much as it is extremely convenient, it can be a huge black hole when it comes to getting things done. Without proper management of the calls, calls can either be extended or don’t achieve anything. To me, a lot of conference calls can be shortened – even to 15 minutes if proper preparation is done prior to the calls. On average, I probably have approximately 7-10 calls a day, covering different topics, from updates to discussions, all the way to approvals for large deals.
Here are some damning statistics according to Harvard Business Review
So how do we keep it short and make it productive??
Usually, if I am the organizer – first thing I would do is to ensure the invite is very clear. My typical invite – which I always strive for, is something like this:
Objective of this call:
- Objective 1 [Name of the person owning this]
- Objective 2 [Name of the person owning this]
- Objective 3 [Name of the person owning this]
Preparation for this call:
- [Name 1] Do that
- [Name 2] Do this
- [Name 3] Do what?
The reason why I do this is to ensure that the objectives are clear, and preparation prior to this call is done properly. What I want to avoid all the time is that people come unprepared, and we have to arrange another call just to discuss the same thing. It’s just a waste of time. In fact a lot of calls can be skipped if we find that the objectives can be done by a short 2 mins direct call to a person. Why bother getting everybody jumping to a call, when it’s just a quick 2 mins call??? Ha ha
During the call, I typically try to run it in this manner:
The steps are as follows:
- Always open up with an ice-breaker. Try not to spend too much time on this. Maybe 2-3 minutes. Figure out a good transition over to get down to the second point.
- Always – run thru the objectives of the meetings. It’s important so that we can set the expectation of the call. Also make sure that there are not too many objectives, otherwise you’ll dilute it.
- Go thru each item.
- If its too long or something that cannot be decided or resolved during the call.
- Push it offline, i.e work thru it during your own time.
- If the item requires an action item…
- Make sure it’s assign to a person. Doesn’t matter if there’s few people need to do this, but one person must own this.
- Move to the next item in the list..
- At the end of the call – do a full recap, especially on the offline actions that needs to be done. And yes! pave the way for the next call (if needed!)
Generally – it’s not hard, but if you just starting to do conference calls, you might want to think about your style, and strive to run it as smooth as you can.
Read an article on HBR.ORG on how should we have our meetings. In the past couple of months, I’ve been extremely busy. Seriously super busy. In fact – the picture below show how packed is my schedule!
First meeting being at 8am – all the way till 8.30pm. There’s a gap between 6pm-6.45pm. That’s because the call just got cancelled! Otherwise, I’ll be having meetings straight the whole day. Hence, why the article on HBR.org is extremely useful.
Such process I need to really remember, EVERYTIME. There are a lot of instances where the call ended up to be just 10 minutes because it didn’t go thru a proper qualification. Yes, its great that we have a call or meeting – but allocating an hour or half hour is not fair for my other engagements. My problem – I have way too many calls or meetings. Just way way too many. I need to cut down as much as I can.
Apart from going thru this process, I am also trying to change the way I asked for a meeting. At any point when I ask for meeting, my invite will have two things (at least):
- Objective and Expectation – List of things to achieve during the meeting/calls
- Prep Work – Preparation work that needs to be done prior to the meeting. This I find very important because a lot of time we go into a meeting or calls unprepared – resulting in creation of a follow up calls. This then become a vicious cycle.
I need to work harder to make myself more efficient. I can’t be going home late every night, its too tiring and I’ll end up burning out.