Too many no-shows? 11 ways to take back control of your agenda

08:10 and still no sign of your first meeting of the day…

It can be difficult to not feel slightly peeved, to say the least, after a someone specifically requested that first 8am slot prior to another “important” meeting on their agenda that morning, and you have forgone your morning workout and/or family breakfast.

You may start wondering whether you got the date wrong, is it Sunday today? There didn’t seem much traffic on the roads now you come to think of it! Do you ring them, do you wait?

Clouds of doubt turn into feelings of frustration when you realise it’s a ‘no show’. You spend the next hours begrudged and disgruntled.

Later that morning, you receive an apology email – “something urgent came up. Can we reschedule for tomorrow, same time, same place?”. Tempted to reply something censorable, you weigh up the pros and cons and, despite this not being the first time this person rescheduled. You reply, “Sure, fine, no problem” while compromising yet another sacred early morning.

If this sounds familiar, I have a few tips to overcome these hiccups and take back control.

Dealing with clients who don’t respect your time

  • Ensure a mention is made in your contractual Terms and Conditions of how you want to deal with these situations
  • Remind the client before the meeting not just when the meeting is, but what the objective is and why it’s important.

What about potential clients?

  • Even if they are not paying for your services (or not yet), you do need to be clear with yourself where your red lines are and what terms and conditions are associated with it. This will enable you to respond rather than react based on emotions.
  • Reflect on whether it is worth charging a fee even for first consultations. People tend to be more committed when they are paying for something.
  • Consider whether it is better to forget this possible client and move on instead of rescheduling. Could this be a warning of the nature of working with this person in the future or is it just a one-off?
  • Transfer the responsibility to them to get their buy-in e.g. say, okay I understand that it is a busy time for you and that you have other priorities, so let’s leave it for the moment and contact me again when you are able to make the appointment. If they really want to, the loss of the opportunity right now will cause a ‘pain point’ on which they will act, and if they insist they want to then give you another date, you could reply saying “okay, let’s give it one last go”.

Riding the waves of an agitated agenda

Add some flexibility & efficiency to your schedule

  • Schedule meetings to end at ten-to the hour
  • Cut meetings by half the usual time as recommended by Gary Vaynerchuck.  As Gary points out, “We do what we can with the time we are given. We want to make sure it gets done, so we make it work.”  We tend to fill out the time allocated to the meeting with any kind of content, when it could be done in much less time.
  • Have a parallel agenda of Plan Bs, to fit in the newly freed-up slots
  • Bring forward the next task on the agenda if you find yourself suddenly with time on your hands.
  • Be thankful for some ‘me time’ – treat yourself, go for a walk etc. Enjoy this gift of a free hour. Warning: you may come to resent it when meetings do start punctually!

Dig deeper for longer-lasting prevention with the help of emotional intelligence

To help those good old deep breaths and provide a little bit more help in confronting these agenda challenges, answer honestly the following thought-provoking questions to discover the possible root causes of agenda-stress:

  • Why are you feeling messed about?
  • Have you had any previous bad experiences with being let down?
  • Why does the other person have that power over you?
  • Why is it important to you that they keep the appointment?
  • What is happening in the other person’s life that makes them forget or miss appointments?
  • Can you empathise with that?
  • Do you feel that people don’t respect your time? do you respect theirs? and your own?
  • Do you cancel often, and if so, how do you feel when you cancel?
  • Are you obsessively punctual or routinely late?
  • Is this resonating with something inside?

These powerful questions will start to provide an insight and awareness to what is going on both internally and externally. This is vital information for you to find possible solutions to help you regain a longer-lasting control of your agenda.

If you are stuck, a coach can accompany you in this, helping you to objectively analyse the possible root causes of agenda-stress together with ways to regain control of your emotions, your agenda, and your life!

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Lindsay Nixon

Emotional Intelligence coach Lindsay helps clients take their personal, sports and professional lives to the next level.

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