There are many reasons that individuals choose a working life as a contractor. From lifestyle and freedom benefits to the chance to earn a little bit more money, and everything in between. For many it is simply the idea of escaping the rat race and becoming your own boss; being free from the corporate rules, getting out from under the thumb of the system and actually being more efficient without quite as much red tape. But you still can’t seem to avoid meetings…
Don’t you just hate those long laborious, pointless, brain-straining meetings that just go on in no particular direction and without any obvious purpose. At the end of them you often think to yourself how that is an hour of your life that you’ll never get back and wonder what was achieved by the event.
Meetings can be productive, instructive and effective!
As your own boss, your time is one of your most valuable commodities, and you would do well to start to treat it as such. An interesting exercise is to work out exactly how much your time is worth. You can do this by looking at the number of actual fee-earning hours (where you are delivering paid-for work) you put in, compared to what you take home. I’ll give you a clue – it should be significantly higher than your hourly rate.
Once you have this rough figure in your head, start to think about how much time you can afford to waste in your next meeting. Then, remembering that you are your own boss and responsible for your time, make sure that you take control of that meeting. Make sure that it has direction, purpose, goals and a time limit. Here are a few top tips for taking control of your meetings.
Do your preparation: Whether you have asked for the meeting or been invited to one, make sure that you sit down beforehand and establish exactly what outcome or actions you want to achieve from it.
Communicate a plan: Don’t be afraid (in fact it might even win you some respect) to tell your client that you value your time (and theirs) so you would like to lay out some clear objectives and an agenda, before the meeting starts.
Invite the right people: The idea of a meeting, rather than a conversation, is to move things forward. So, if the right people to make the appropriate movement happen are not present, it is probably a good idea to postpone it until they are. Who do you need to be at the meeting to make it productive?
Time management: Delays are occasionally unavoidable, but tardiness is never acceptable. Again, it is perfectly reasonable in a professional environment to request that people are on time and to start on time with a set agenda. One top tip is to set an end time as well as a start time. Making this something like 10:00 until 10:45 is highly effective because it politely kills the assumption that the meeting is an hour long or open-ended.
Ban electronic distractions: Another totally reasonable request is that people turn off their phones and devices until the meeting is finished. There are few people (however important they are) who can’t afford to be out of touch with the outside world for a mere 45 minutes.
It’s time to start making your meetings, as a professional time-valuing contractor, worth the time you spend in them.