“You can do anything, but not everything” – David Allen
I didn’t realise what a can of worms I was opening when I decided to write some blogs on meetings!!! (See Elon Musk’s 3 rules on meetings, Do this after every meeting and How to make status meetings more effective). Feedback has ranged from being thanked for providing pragmatic tips through to detailed questions on how to run better meetings. There’s one theme though that’s stirred the emotions more than anything else and that’s: “How do I to stop overcommitting during meetings when my manager is allocating tasks I don’t think I can achieve in the expected timeframe, but before you know it I've said yes.”
We’re often faced with conflicting priorities at work. There are timelines the business needs to achieve and outcomes I need to accomplish to be successful in my role. The issue is when I’m a resource on the business initiatives but don’t have enough time to also complete my own work. The result is something tends to give and for many, it’s public humiliation in a meeting when announcing I’ve missed a target or deadline.
How can you stop this from happening?
Unless you’re masterful at negotiation then you need to have a good understanding of your real capacity and commitments. In other words, it gets down to basic planning and scheduling or personal productivity 101. The scheduling piece is easy to do when scheduling using an electronic calendar ie. Outlook, Google Calendar etc. because you can easily see available hours, scheduled work and excess capacity. However, it might not be just scheduling as the real issue could even start with how effective your workflow is.
During the meeting just having the information available somewhere doesn’t help if you don’t use it wisely. One approach to offset the pressure of feeling forced to accept additional actions is to take either an electronic version or printout of your schedule to the meeting. It ensures you’re clear the impact will have on existing priorities and provides the necessary data you need to talk with conviction in a way that supports your view and negotiation.
Don’t accept actions blindly. Be expert in personal productivity to ensure you’re working at an optimal level, achieving outcomes in less time and know what you can or can’t take on. It will help drive results, set realistic expectations and might even save yourself from the public embarrassment of having to announce you’ve missed another deadline.
If you want to supercharge your meetings, then contact me on how I can help to embed a culture that unlocks potential and drives results.