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Scheduling in processing time

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  • Scheduling in processing time

    I find that with one or more meetings per day, which each generate some amount of follow-up, it is really challenging completing my meeting follow-up as well as responding to calls, emails, working on my ongoing projects and triaging the inbox.

    I'm realizing that I probably need to be stricter on how many meetings I can do in a day/week so that I'm sure to have enough time to do the actual work (not just meetigns)!

    Does anyone have words of wisdom on this situation and solutions? Thanks!

  • #2
    Maybe you could come in a bit early and get your processing done before the day begins? I usually do it before I leave the office, but sounds like you might be too busy then.


    • #3
      I usually block out 15 minutes before and 15 minutes after each meeting. I use the time before the meeting to prepare, and I use the time after to process my notes.

      My favorite strategy for cutting down on the number of meetings I attend is to require the host to send me an agenda highlighting what my involvement should be. If I don't get an agenda ahead of time, I don't attend the meeting (of course, I have to bend this rule if the host is a client or my boss!). And if my involvement is on an FYI level, they can just send me the relevant parts of the meeting minutes.

      At first, you may get some snide remarks or sidelong glances from your colleagues who aren't used to being told "no", but it won't take long for those around you to recognize that you are someone who knows how to manage your time and commitments.


      • #4
        I physically fell Ok when I have not more then 3 meetings per day. That doesn't include unscheduled meeting with my collegues and bosses.


        • #5
          Staying on top daily is crucial. In addition to jknecht's great suggestion re: blocking pre- and post-processing time, I recommend explicity putting yourself in a processing frame of mind, which means you're going to empty your inbox without fail. Don't respond to email messages, switch the phone to go to the answering machine, ask walk-in interruptors to stop back (or quickly make an appointment).


          • #6
            You don't always have the luxury of immediate processing time when meetings fall back to back. However, the soonest you can get to your notes and process items into your system the better. Cornell has some good suggestions for marking your notes as you go to make the extraction less laborious.

            While it is reasonable to request an agenda, requesting a personalized agenda and personalized minutes in the event you chose not to attend is a little much. Once the agenda is published, you can ask for further clarification on the purpose of an item if it's not clear whether or not you are needed. (Questioning the agenda should condition the host to include more information in future agendas.) If you chose not to attend, the host should let you know if there is an expectation that you will do something as a result of the meeting. However, this doesn't always happen although it should. For anything else, the invitee should review the minutes to see if they need any of the information. For one thing, the host may not be in a position to know exactly what information you need from a meeting. If you don't attend, don't read or receive minutes and thus don't find out something that would have been helpful to know, don't blame the host.


            • #7
              thank you all for your comments!

              i already process my meeting notes during the meeting as much as possible (using a checkbox for all action items), and as much as possible do my action items and file the notes (if necessary) right after the meeting, though often they linger for days or weeks.

              the problem is that i get so many incoming questions and assignments (constantly) that it's very challenging to me, if i'm sitting at the computer, which i usually am, to "stay away" from the new things 100% (i'm easily distracted). in other words, between staying on top of my meeting processing, doing timely 2 minute stuff, and assessing incoming work, i have a hard time getting to my big meaty projects, several of which with looming deadlines. the whole day often passes doing 2 minute and 15-30 minute stuff but not the 30 minute-2 hour stuff.

              i'm thinking lately that since i'm about to get a new work computer that perhaps i should use the old one as a project work station only (not for outlook or web), so i can sit somewhere physically separate so as to not get so distracted. i'd work off-site but i need to be close to my various info sources.

              how often is it good to do triage of all existing and incoming projects. daily?


              • #8
                Originally posted by coconut View Post
                i have a hard time getting to my big meaty projects, several of which with looming deadlines. the whole day often passes doing 2 minute and 15-30 minute stuff but not the 30 minute-2 hour stuff.
                Coconut, I have the same problem. One trick I've used with some success is that when I notice during my weekly reviews that I'm not making progress on the projects that require longer blocks of time is the schedule a meeting with myself to work on those.

                Of course the trick then is to honor those "meetings" like any other...


                • #9
                  One solution:

                  Silence the phone, set your IM to "busy," and close your email application, then start working on something for 30 minutes.

                  I suggest this because I read all about how good that was to do, and predictably, didn't follow it at all. After spending years finding myself unable to work for a few hours straight, out of desperation I tried it, and surprise surprise it worked!