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  • Helen and Inga

The ‘what and why’ of finishing well

Man wondering how to manage his workload ahead of a meeting.

Remember that great meeting you went to when everything went smoothly? People were engaged and stayed on topic, a lot was discussed and achieved. Heck, it even finished on time. You really enjoyed it and the cherry on top was an action plan with clear ownership and deadlines. It couldn’t have been better.

In the afterglow of that meeting, you’re keen to begin the tasks you agreed to do. You sit down to map out your days ahead and, as you review your insanely full to-do list, check your inbox and see the number of missed calls, reality smacks you in the face. Exactly how are you going to do all this without cloning yourself?

The memory of that great meeting fades and all that’s left is a long list of actions, more stress, longer hours, little sleep and perhaps some frustration or resentment. If you recognise this, you’re not alone – that post-meeting overwhelm is the reality for many. Time to do something different.

First, work out how and why your name appeared next to so many actions.

Did you volunteer?

If so, why? Were you the most equipped to do the work? Could somebody else have been a better fit? What did you hope for by volunteering and what did you get out of it? Did your effort match the value?

Did you realise the full consequence of what you signed up for?

Did the task suddenly grow arms and legs and become more than you originally anticipated?

Was your name put forward by others?

Were you ‘volun-told’? Why might that be? How did you feel about being volunteered? Did you feel able to say ‘I don’t have capacity’ or ‘Can someone else take this on?’

Next, decide to do something different by interrupting your routine of ending up with too much on our plate. Become more mindful by paying attention to what you’re stepping in to.

Making conscious, mindful choices about what to take on will be a great move and can be done by being:

Mindful as you plan

Remember, great meetings begin before they start. Plan ahead and add in awareness of everyone’s individual circumstances and workload into the mix.

Mindful while you meet

As your meeting begins with a clear purpose, the right people and a good plan, remember your capacity to take on tasks right at the start. Take a moment before you volunteer for a new task – you might realise you don’t have capacity to follow through and hopefully, a conversation on who else can do it or who could do it with you, will happen.

Mindful of others

Pay attention to who leaves with actions. Is it always the same people? Take a moment to reflect on action items and ownership before closing the meeting. Pause and share thoughts and/or challenges with the group to avoid situations where we come out of a great meeting only to feel rubbish once we’ve reflected upon it.

In the end, small changes can make a big difference.

In this way, being mindful at every stage of the meeting will reduce the instances when you habitually put your hand up without thinking through the consequences and becoming overwhelmed with your to-do list.

There’s a natural tendency to focus on the start of a meeting and it’s rare to begin with the detailed end in mind. Conversely, the end of a meeting can be a rushed affair with people ‘putting their hands up’ for too many things without enough consideration.

Man at desk wondering about collaboration on meetings and his workload.

We’d love to know your thoughts and if you found it useful. Please message Inga or Helen on LinkedIn with any tips or suggestions. And if you want to change up your next meeting, book a call with TFP now.


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