Meetings can be big time wasters or productive planning sessions. But there is one you should have daily- first thing in the morning – a meeting with yourself and it will increase your chances for success. This will give you time to prepare for the day and not rush into your morning. Let’s start with a case study of a typically morning for Eileen (based on a true story).
8:48am Eileen gets off her train at central station. She heads for the connecting bus and takes a seat- today she’s luck that she got one. She anxiously looks at her watch, still on schedule for her 9am conference call.
8:50am The Bus leaves central station. At this point it’s packed, Eileen is feeling the elbow of her neighbor in her ribs. Eileen glances at her watch and is glad the bus left on time.
8:55am The bus arrives at the front door of MegaCorp, where Eileen works. Eileen waits for her turn to get out and proceeds to the building. She’s still on schedule.
8:56 am Eileen is waiting at the elevator bank at MegaCorp. Only 4 minutes to her 9am meeting.
8:57am Bill from IT gets on the elevator just before the doors close, causing them to reopen. Eileen smiles at Bill, though secretly she’s upset at the 4 seconds he stole off her morning. They discuss the previous nights game as they ride up to the 20th floor, but Eileen is only partially engaged. She’s already thinking about her dash to her desk as soon as the doors open.
8:59am Eileen wishes Bill a good day and says “Gotta run, I have a nine o’clock”. She gets to her desk puts down her bag. Flips the on switch on her computer and sits down. Just in time as the phone rings for her 9am phone meeting.
9:02am Eileen scans her email during the call. She sees one from the client, just as the the content of it comes up. “I sent you an updated widget report overnight.” says the client.
“Yes I saw it. I’ll look at it closely and let you know my feedback later today.” she answers quickly while opening the attachment.
9:05am The subject of the new computer equipment comes up. Eileen says she’ll follow up on it and notes it on her to do list.
9:22am The client call ends. Eileen puts her bag in the corner where it belongs. She puts her lunch in the office fridge. She comes back to her desk to listen to her voice mails and processes her email.
9:40am Eileen goes through the client’s widget report and sends a detailed report of her feedback.
9:55am Eileen calls Bill from IT. They exchange pleasantries. Then she asks about the progress on the computer order.
10:00am Eileen dashes another email to the client about the computer order progress.
10:02am Eileen is happy with her productive start.
Now lets image Eileen changes just one thing- she has blocked her calendar so no appointments can be made first thing in the morning. Her 9am appointment is now at 9:30am.
8:48am Eileen gets off her train at central station. It’s a nice day for a walk to the office. She glances at her watch, she has time and strolls to the office. It’s a 10 minute walk or a five minute ride by bus. She’s glad she doesn’t have to rush and can walk.
8:50am As she walks she passes some school kids playing in the yard and thinks of the funny thing her five year old said that morning.
8:55am She’s two blocks away from MegaCorp but she sees the bus stops in front of her building. She sees people rushing out. It reminds her of the opening scene of the Charlie Chaplin Movie “Modern Times”. She chuckles to herself as she thinks of the pigs.
8:57 Bill from IT sees her coming in the building and waves to her as the elevator doors close in front of him. He waits for her to arrive. They take the next elevator up.
8:58am Eileen and Bill chat about the previous night’s game as they head up the elevator to the 20th floor.
9:00am Eileen and Bill finish their sports chat in front of the elevator banks. Eileen asks about the the equipment he’s ordered for “The Client”. He says he’ll look into it. She says “I have a 9:30 call with them. If you can get me the answers by then it would be great.” He assures her he can and they depart.
9:03am She puts her lunch in the office fridge as she passes the employee lounge.
9:04am She gets to her desk and puts away her bag. Flips the on switch on her computer. Eileen listens to her voice mails as the computer starts up. Then processes her email.
9:15am Eileen notices an email from “The Client” and goes through the client’s widget report. Instead of composing a long email, she prints it out and marks it up so that she can go over it during the phone call. She highlights the four main issues.
9:25am Eileen goes back to finish processing her emails. She sees Bill’s response which includes the tracking number.
9:28am She prepares her notes on the meeting with a few bullet points.
9:30am The phone rings and Eileen picks it up confidently.
9:35am The subject of the new computer equipment comes up. Eileen gives them the update and says she has the tracking number if it’s not received.
9:45am “I sent you an updated widget report overnight.” says the client.
“I got it. I went through it and have 4 questions for you.” Eileen replies and they talk about the widget report.
10:01am The client call ends.
10:02am Eileen is happy with her productive start.
As you can see in both these scenarios Eileen was productive. But in the second one she had time in the morning to prepare. The preparation gave her more confidence and allowed her to accomplish two important tasks: First, the meeting gave her feedback on what she needs to do with the widget report. Second, she was a step ahead following up on the equipment order.
She was also able to squeese some relaxing exercise into her morning and wasn’t curt when talking to co-workers. Of course I worked out these times to correlate. But less stress and more time thinking help. The ideal scenario would be to come in early each morning, but that isn’t always possible. Coming in early allows you to prepare in a quiet environment.
Starting your day with stress can send a bad tone for your day. So don’t run, walk into your new day.