Meetings are indispensable when you don’t want to do anything. ~ John Kenneth Galbraith
Over the past few weeks, I’ve offered ideas for making time for ourselves to learn new things in an effort to become adaptive to a changing and unpredictable future. Technology, I argue, is the culprit for this change. It is also the reason most of us find it so difficult to set aside quiet time for learning something new.
My previous ideas have been somewhat simple and now I’d like to offer a few more over the next two weeks that will be more difficult, but with reward commensurate to the increased effort.
If you’re like most professionals, your days are probably filled to the brim with meetings that are making it hard to get work done. Frustrating for sure. Although meetings are unavoidable, most of us can block off time on our schedules in advance for getting things done. For me that time is on Mondays when I’m well rested from the weekend, I call it: No Meeting Mondays.
By “no meeting Mondays,” I really do mean that I block off a large portion of my day to get work done according to an outline I sketch out on Fridays (will discuss “follow-up Fridays” next week). As such, when someone asks for my time and it happens to be a Monday I simply respond honestly that I’m booked.
This might be a good time to concede I do not achieve a 100 percent success rate in No Meeting Mondays. The day might be optimistic in name, but it’s a great goal. What I strive for is a very intentional day. If I’m going to have a meeting it better be important. It took me awhile to get to this point, but having done so for quite some time, here are some of the results:
- Mondays are now my favorite day of the work week. Really. I cannot wait to get to work on Mondays because I know that no matter how the rest of the week goes, I’m going to have my most productive day.
- Because a large chunk of time is blocked off on Mondays, I always have openings to respond to mission critical events without disrupting my entire week and it’s nice to know I’ve got the time to take an emergency appointment without messing up the rest of my week.
- I don’t know what it is about Mondays and manufacturing but, if things are going to go wrong, they seem to go wrong on Mondays. Now, when the wheels come off and things need my attention I don’t have to worry about rearranging my entire schedule to tend to the issues.
To those of you who have a hard time imagining being able to pull something like this off, consider testing the waters by starting small. Pick 30 minutes when you’re normally productive and you’re not in a regularly scheduled meeting and block it off on your calendar every week. Once you feel comfortable with that, pick another 30 minute block of time and do the same. Although you might not be able to get away with blocking off an entire day, hopefully you can allocate at least a couple hours a week for this purpose.
If you’re in sales and make a living knocking on doors, consider using your blocked off time to learn about the product you’re selling, study up on the competition, learn, do market research, call existing customers, etc. As noted last week, given that I believe we’re moving from an economy where thing are bought rather than sold, taking time out from your normal routine of making customer calls may end up making a big difference in the long run.
In an ideal world it should be easy to get buy-in from management to block time off on your schedule to do the work you’re actually getting paid to do. If, however, that’s a stretch in your organization, you’ll need to figure out a way to be more subtle about it. To a friend of mine who worked for a large company that had so many regular scheduled meetings they were given names (e.g., Tier 1, 2, 3…etc.), I recommended keeping with protocol when naming his own appointment. Not sure what came of my recommendation, but in a nod to the movie Spinal Tap, my vote was for naming them “Tier 11” meetings.
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Before checking out for the week, how about some music to add to our eclectic and expanding Manufacturing Peace of Mind™ Spotify playlist? For those of you who are drowning in meetings, I thought I’d leave you with a song that will hopefully put you in a good mood. Here then are the 1970s band The Mustangs playing “The Time for Loving is Now,” a song written by the legendary Bahamian artist Frank Penn. Let summer begin!
Having said that, I am interested to hear from you. Good, bad, or otherwise, please feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m the only person who will read your email and, as time allows, I’ll do my best, at a minimum, to personally acknowledge receipt.