Ensuring Productive Appointments by Meggin McIntosh, PhD

By meggin@meggin.com
Apr 8th, 2013

appointmentOne of the best aspects of appointments is that we can prepare for them. This set of Top Ten Productivity Tips gives you ideas so that you can (and I hope, will) do the preparation work ahead of time that will allow your appointments to be effective, efficient, and productive for you and those with whom you are meeting.

  1. Call and/or email prior to all appointments to confirm. It takes only a couple of minutes and may save you a couple of hours or more if the other person had forgotten or needs to reschedule.  You’ll never regret confirming and may frequently regret it when you don’t invest a few minutes (and minor effort) to confirm.

  2. Arrive and/or be ready on time  for your appointment (and this means planning to arrive early if you are traveling to an appointment).  Consult the ‘pockets’ series that I have available if you need reminders and suggestions for putting ‘pockets’ in your life, such as allowing more time to travel than you think you’ll need.

  3. Expect that you will have to wait, so have something to work on or to read instead of sitting and twiddling your thumbs or leafing through old magazines or meaningless brochures.  One of the great reasons to always have your planner with you is because it provides you with a vehicle to be productive during wait-time.

  4. Determine your questions, issues, or goals for the appointment. Write them down.  Have your list handy to use during your appointment. Encourage others with whom you’re meeting to come prepared with questions or goals that they have for your appointment.  It helps everyone.  I often request that clients come to our appointments with their questions in writing or even sent to me ahead of time.  It allows everyone to be prepared and get the most out of the appointment.

  5. Find out how much time the other person has. If this hasn’t been established ahead of time, find out right at the beginning of the appointment.  Just a simple question like, “How much time do you have today?” will work.  Don’t make this harder than it needs to be.

  6. Determine how much time you have. Make that clear to the other person, too.  If it has not been established prior to your appointment, provide it as you’re getting started.  Everyone is served when the parameters are delineated.

  7. Agree on an agenda ahead of time (or at the beginning of the appointment). People think of agendas for meetings, but an appointment with even one other person is also a meeting.  Have an agenda.  Simple is fine.

  8. Meet where there are no (or limited) distractions (e.g., phone, email, drop-ins).  If you are constantly distracted, one or both of you will be frustrated and you will be far less productive than you could have been.

  9. Set up the environment for productivity (close door, ask that phones be turned off).  Make it clear that you have turned off your cell phone for your appointment – either with the hope that your companion will, too – or as a way of indicating that you’d like him/her to silence the phone, as well.

  10. Have the tools you need to be productive (your planner, some place to take notes, a timer so you don’t have to keep checking your watch).  Get set up so you’re ready.  You don’t want to be borrowing a pencil part way through your appointment.  Arriving without the necessary tools makes it look as if you didn’t have any expectations for the appointment.

Consider making these practices part of your personal and professional culture.  Bring them up at a future staff meeting for discussion and buy-in.

© Meggin McIntosh, Ph.D (also known as “The PhD of Productivity”®) was a university professor for over 15 years and spent five of those years working with faculty at the University of Nevada, Reno.  Since leaving the full-time academic life, Meggin writes, consults, and does workshops for smart people who want to be more productive, thereby being able to consistently keep their emphasis on excellence.  Thus, the name of her company is Emphasis on Excellence, Inc.

And for strategies to help put pockets of time into your writing, check out Putting Pockets in Your Professional Life: 52 Tips to Implement Immediately. This booklet is for professionals who are frequently rushing from meeting to meeting, promising and then not delivering, or wondering if they will ever “catch up.” In this booklet, readers will find tools to support them in our often-crazy world so that they can live their professional lives more peacefully and productively.