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Why You Should Never Schedule Anything at the Top of the Hour

As you probably know, a top productivity tip and regular habit of mine, is to write my to do list the night before. I consider it a roadmap for the following day. I don’t have to stick to that schedule exactly, but it gives me a path to follow.

Many of the highly-productive people I know do the same thing. However I’ve noticed they make one key mistake – they schedule tasks for the top of the hour. For example your to-do list might look something like:

  • 10am catch up on email
  • 11am call Donna

What’s wrong with that?

The problem is two fold.

First of all, as a total procrastinator I know all the tricks your mind will play on you in order to put things off. Scheduling things at the top of the hour is a classic one. Why? Because the second that clock ticks 10:01 and you haven’t checked your email, you start to think to yourself, “well now I’ve missed my opportunity! I’ll get to it in a minute”.  But then you never actually get back to that original task because your attention pulls you away.

The second issue is that when you schedule something for say 11am, people don’t actually start to get ready until 11am. I find that if I’ve scheduled a call with someone, if I make the call on time they often won’t answer, as they’re still going back to their desk or checking over their notes. The same is true of meetings. How many 2pm meetings actually start on time?

So what’s my solution?

I like to schedule appointments and tasks for 15 mins past the hour. This gives you 15 minute to prepare or get yourself set up for the time ahead. So if it’s a Skype call you’ve got time to login and check your audio is working at the top of the hour. If you’re scheduling a meeting these extra 15 minutes give people time to grab a cup of coffee or tea and get settled.

Go through your diary today and shake up your schedule! Be sure to let me know how it goes in the comments below.

3 Ways to Have an Effective Lunch Meeting

I always look forward to a good lunch meeting, but it can be tricky to get it right because there are so many distractions. If the purpose of the meeting is to talk business you may have to plan ahead. There’s nothing worse than getting to the best part of your pitch when suddenly the waiter interrupts to take your order. Or when the food takes to long and makes you late to work.

The best way to ensure a successful lunch meeting is to put in a little planning beforehand. Here are some of my top tips.

Choose the location wisely – When I meet with my mastermind group for meals we have got them down to an exact science! When booking a place to meet we always ensure that we meet at a restaurant where you can go up and get your food and then sit down. This saves you getting distracted looking at the menu and dealing with the waiter. Plus once you’ve got your food you can sit down and get started quickly on whatever topics you’ve got on the agenda. Read more

The Art of the 7 Minute Meeting

Me and Terri Trespicio with Gary Vaynerchuk at our friend Farnoosh Torabi's launch party for her new CNBC show Follow the Leader. She interviews Gary in it.

Me and Terri Trespicio with Gary Vaynerchuk at our friend Farnoosh Torabi’s launch party for her new CNBC show Follow the Leader. She interviews Gary in it.

I talk a lot about the biggest time wasters in the workplace.

You know them well.

There’s checking Facebook or your email, trolling the internet for nearly anything, chatting with your co-worker, a “quick” game of Candy Crush… the list goes on and on.

But what’s the ultimate time waster?

Meetings!

Think about it.  How many time have you sat in a meeting that was supposed to finish an hour ago, but one person keeps asking questions that aren’t really relevant? (There’s always one!)

What’s more?  The majority of meetings end up going nowhere. Too much talk and nothing ever gets done.

That’s a huge pet peeve of mine — I’m all about the execution.  Give me the checklist to get things done! Read more