My clients often struggle to balance busy schedules that are packed with meetings. So, it may come as a surprise that many find relief by adding one more appointment to their day. What is this magic meeting?
It's the morning meeting with yourself, and it may be the most important meeting of your day.
The morning meeting with yourself can be short - 10 to 20 minutes. It should be the first thing you do when you start your work day. Here's your agenda:
- Assemble Your Tools: Start with a blank piece of paper, your calendar, your task management system (to-do lists), and your browser open (but don't go into your email yet). Take a deep breath.
- Eyeball Your Calendar: What's on your schedule today? Is there anything you need to do to prepare for today's appointments that you haven't done yet? If so, make a note of it on your paper. Now glance at the next two days on your calendar. Anything coming down the pike that you need to prepare for? If so, make a note of what you need to do, or block off time on your calendar to prepare.
- Review Your Tasks: Look over your task lists (if you practice Getting Things Done, this would be your Next Actions and your Waiting Fors) . What absolutely must get done today? Make a note of it. What should get done today? Make a note of these things too. If you have open blocks of time, what will you work on?
- Scan Email and Voicemail: Do a quick once-over of your email for "hot" items and listen to your voicemail. Take note of anything that changes your plans for the day (a cancelled lunch or an emergency conference call) or that contains an action that absolutely must be done today. Note these. Do not answer emails or return phone calls at this point (you're in a meeting, remember?).
- Start Your Day: Take a deep breath and think about the day ahead of you. Review your cheat sheet of must-do's once more, noting anything you neglected to capture in the steps above. Take another deep breath, and get to work!
The reason this meeting is magic is that it gives you a chance to set your own agenda for your day before the madness begins. Unlike overly detailed work plans, it allows you to adjust to shifting priorities day-by-day.
This meeting won't take things off your plate or clear your schedule, but it will enable you go into your day with a sense of clarity about what's ahead. With this clarity, you'll feel more grounded in saying "no" to people and distractions that would derail you from your priorities. And, you'll be less likely to suddenly remember that thing you meant to do today when it's 5:30 PM and you're getting ready to wrap up.