How to quit being a time thief and get to meetings on time

Yeah we know. You're important. You're so busy. You've got so many thing to do and places to go and people to dazzle. You're in hot demand from morning to night. Getting to meetings is the least of your priorities when you've got a team to manage, right?

Wrong. It's your number one priority. Be it a boardroom meeting, a brainstorming session or coffee with a staff member.

Being late is selfish, unproductive and a waste of everybody's time. Being late means you make other people late -- late to get to their next meeting, late to continue on with their own work, late to getting back home to their kids in the evening.

It's not that difficult. Arrive on time. End the meeting on time and allow the room to move on to their next daily task.

But if you're naturally on the tardy side, the following tips should help.

  1. Set reminders that go 'bing'.

    For lateness addicts there's no point using a diary or setting an outlook reminder if it doesn't make a noise -- or at least a big flashy appearance prior to the meeting start time. Meeting reminders are so easy to overlook if they just sit in a diary you look at once a day. So check out the settings on your phone, iPad and outlook, get as many reminders to go "bing" as possible. And when it goes "bing" in front of another person, they'll know you need to wrap the meeting up and move on.

  2. Apply the 15 minute rule

    Whatever time the meeting starts, believe it starts 15 minutes earlier in your own head.

  3. Use your "15 minute" early time productively

    As an extra little incentive for arriving 15 minutes early for a meeting, make it your "me time". Use it as an opportunity to sit down in the empty meeting room to get your thoughts in order, reply to some emails or even just relax.

  4. Create meeting buffer zones

    Never schedule a meeting up against another, you need a break. Even just 15 minutes.

  5. Schedule phone and Skype meetings

    There's a lot of time wasted travelling from one side of the city to another going from meeting to meeting. And transport woes can often create a source of unwilling lateness. Ask yourself: do I really need to meet this individual in person? Could we schedule in a 30 minute chat or video conference call instead? Often, the person you're meeting with is just as keen to avoid the hassle of running to a meeting across town as you are.

  6. Cut down the number of meetings you attend

    One way to avoid being late is to avoid going to or scheduling the meeting in the first place. We all know that while some meetings are important, many are nothing but mind-numbingly boring minutes of inaction addressing a point that could have been sorted with a simple group email or Skype chat. Take a look through your diary, which internal meetings do you really need to attend? Which weekly catch-ups can be moved to a fortnightly of monthly schedule? Which meetings can be replaced by asking an employee to provide a simple "work in progress" snapshot on where they're up to?

  7. Experiment with the "five-minute stand-up" meeting

    Getting to the next meeting on time will be a breeze if the previous meeting's kept short and simple. Recently, Chris McIntyre came up with the "five-minute stand-up", a means (originally for entrepreneurs) of creating accountability in your team and getting your people to handle their own issues and avoid micro-managing. It involves having team members offer a solution to a workplace solution while bringing the challenge up. Check it out.

Meredith the Mentor

Meredith is a contributing writer to Women's Agenda. She is is not a consultant, or a management guru. She's not even a published author. Just someone who's made plenty of mistakes, and learnt a few lessons along the way.

Stay Smart, Get Savvy

Must-know news for Professional Women

Stay Smart, Get Savvy!

Must-know news for Professional Women