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Try this simple trick to ALWAYS be prepared

Knowing where I needed to be and when was never much of an issue in the corporate world. Meetings were almost always held in-person in the same building every time.

And, lucky me, my office was located just outside the main conference room. Usually, someone would pop into my office on their way into the meeting room and ask if I was ready. I’m naturally a pretty punctual person, preferring to have a 5-10 minute buffer when driving to meet someone, but there I also had the added benefit of human meeting reminders in the form of my coworkers.

It was pretty awesome, I must admit.

But once I started my own business, 90% of my meetings and appointments moved to virtual realms – phone, Skype, Zoom, Go To Meeting, UberConference.

While some scheduling became automated through Acuity, some, like my weekly accountability buddy calls and monthly local women entrepreneurs meetings, could not be.

I’d have to refer back to old emails just to grab the online meeting link to join my mastermind group each week.

Or I’d meet someone for coffee and talk about a business opportunity, but I wouldn’t have all of the background information at the ready. Instead, I’d sift through emails on my phone (and I have an older iPhone and the screen is tiny) or be lucky and get a wifi signal strong enough check via my computer.

This method was NOT working for me.

To help keep appointment and meeting details straight, I started to add everything to my calendar appointments. And when I say everything, I mean EVERYTHING.

You name it, if I need the details for an appointment, it is in the calendar. So what do I include?

Here’s a quick overview of my method:

  • The point of the appointment
    • I get specific when setting the appointment name. You won’t find ‘Podcast Interview’ as an appointment on my calendar, but rather ‘Podcast Interview: [podcast name] with [podcast host]’.
  • Where the meeting will be held
    • For in-person meetings, that means the address of where I’m meeting someone gets listed.
    • And for virtual meetings, that includes the individual’s Skype ID or phone number or online link (usually through Zoom).
  • The full purpose of the meeting
    • You know that large section in a calendar appointment, usually titled ‘Description’ or ‘Notes’. Do you usually leave it blank? Well don’t!
    • I fully utilize the Description section of a calendar appointment, sometimes copying entire email threads into that section, so that I have full background of what we’re supposed to be discussing and figuring out during the meeting. Because if the meeting doesn’t have a goal or purpose or agenda, don’t have it!
    • For example, I was recently asked to co-host Q&A calls during a coach friend’s upcoming program. To flesh out the details of what those Q&A calls will look like, I had a call with the co-host and into that calendar appointment went the entire contents of our email exchange, so that I would not have to search for the original email during our planning session.

This tweak to your calendar process may seem simple, but it cuts down tremendously on being late to appointments, not fully utilizing your time during a meeting (or worse, wasting someone’s time) and bouncing back and forth between apps, programs or screens just to get the context for a meeting’s purpose.

If your assistant is managing your calendar, ask her follow this process too. It will cut down or even eliminate the questions that may arise later on, like ‘why am I speaking to so and so? about what? how do I connect with them?’.

And for all of you who want to know, I use Google Calendar’s online interface as my primary calendar, and also have it linked to my iPhone through the Apple Calendar app. No matter where I am, I always know where I need to be next.

How do you manage the many calls, meetings and appointments that come up as a business owner? Do you find yourself feeling unprepared just before an appointment starts?

Try out the calendar management trick listed above and report back!

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