How I found an extra month of time in Q1, and in addition, greater business clarity in 2017!
Back in December I went through my typical reflection of the past 12 months, what could I have done differently/better, who’s businesses were better because of Infinite Green, and was my personal life more balanced and more fulfilling? After a few deep thoughts, I pivoted quickly into “looking ahead” because I am typically an optimist. I was just about to fall into making a few resolutions, but this time I wanted to do something different. Lately, time seems to escape me faster as business gets busier and what I find myself doing most often is poorly attempting to catch up while nightly insomnia is at its peak. Not healthy, not productive, and not fun.
How could I get more done in the hours during the day so I didn’t occupy my mind as much at night or on the weekends?
Upon further research, I reviewed my calendar in detail and noticed something I have never even realized until that day in December. Most of my meetings with several clients over the course of the year were in 1 hour time slots.
- Did they all need to be an hour?
- Were the bulk of the meaningful decisions, ideas, collaborations, challenges, discussions, etc driving to a next step or outcome?
- Were the majority of those meetings set up so prep work and clear purpose was accomplished before everyone got on the conference bridge?
- Did everyone on the call actively participate and add to the clarity and outcomes we so easily felt we could accomplish during the meeting?
Most certainly not.
- Could the practical and thoughtful use of visuals, data, and concise written messaging have replaced the “weekly recurring 9am blah blah blah…?”
- Would most of the chronic meeting attenders (myself included) pay dearly for some “heads down” time to just get stuff done?
- Was there a future in getting back to productivity without just adding more hours in the day?
Most definitely yes!
One of the most important things I have picked up during Infinite Green’s 8 years that I like to share with my clients and their teams is this; Hope is not a strategy. If you expect things to change but don’t materially change the way you do things, then you are “hoping” it will happen on its own. Taking the time offline to document and actually put stuff down on “paper” for people to react to while you are in a meeting, rather than just having another meeting to rehash what was already discussed benefits everyone!
Here’s what I did in January:
- When I had a thought or a question, I picked up my phone and called before scheduling anything – I changed the way I fell into the meeting trap.
- I started scheduling meetings for 30 minutes (I got some push back, but they quickly realized the benefits and changed their own habits.)
- When I received a meeting for an hour or more from someone else, I called the organizer for a list of outcomes and negotiated a 30 minute discussion whenever possible. I called I tried not to add to the email noise.
- I came up with simple meeting tactics I could use whenever possible:
- Invite messages – I stated the outcomes needed, only invited the participants critical to making the decisions, and set expectations that we would be starting promptly at 1 minute before the scheduled time.
- I asked for feedback in the meeting invite to enhance the dialogue, or thoughtful content that could ultimately eliminate the meeting from happening – It became a game!
- I got creative with pictures, articles and available content to enhance the dialogue and clarify decision points.
- I reinforced action items and shared how best to accomplish them – typically an offline activity that could be socialized outside of a meeting.
- As a company we typically use Instant Messaging or collaboration tools that our clients are most comfortable with, and if they don’t have any, we bring them to the table. This also cuts down extra meeting times.
- After the first month or so it became a habit, easier to manage, and the time I freed up added margin to my day, some of which I kept, and some of which I gave back to my clients and team!
The results after March 31st were stunning!
- I had effectively eliminated 158 hours of meetings from my calendar, shifted those times to actual work and overall got more done! (just a few hours shy of a work month!)
- Infinite Green added 2 new clients to our portfolio (I may not have had the same amount of bandwidth to offer them to get the deals done)
- I felt more accomplished and more complete with my clients and this level of clarity helped us move forward in areas where we had been stalling.
- My weekends and evenings were much more balanced for family/personal time and my insomnia has been less prevelant.
- I have started feeling better physically and have been exercising more, in turn perpetuating the “good habits.”
I found real time that I gave back to my clients, my team, my family and myself and I am looking forward to seeing how the rest of the year shapes up. I hope you find this helpful, because last year I wouldn’t have had the time to share my story.