Transition Time

Have you ever had a meeting only to find that you could have contributed a lot more if you had a few more minutes to prepare? Or that with a few more minutes of prep you could have cut your meeting time in half?  I’ve had both experiences, and I’m sure you have as well. I propose the idea that one way that we can figue out how to avoid these experiences by thinking more about transition time.

I think the concept of transition time is critical, especially for people that lead busy lives. In business school, our schedules booked with events, filled with meetings, and packed nonstop with classes and recruiting events. In law school, it’s similar, except there’s a lot more reading and work to get done for class. So in hopes to get everything done, most people work up until the last possible minute before hurrying over to their next scheduled meeting.

But there are two problems with this. First is that we continually leave ourselves too little time to prepare. And second, it would then suggest that we’re always making schedules that are impossible to keep. After all, how can we end a meeting at 3pm and start the next one at 3pm? Even if they’re just phone meetings, there’s no way you can dial that fast. And if you throw in a bathroom break in the middle, you’re basically admitting that impossibility beforehand.

Take one second and think about it:

  • How many meetings have you been in where where you begin to wonder, what’s the point?
  • How often have you thought: this 2 hour meeting should have been 1 hour?
  • How many times have you been on a phone call and found yourself surfing the web?

Chances are you were right.  Your meeting probably could have been 30 minutes if you had done the right planning. And surfing the web was probably more productive.

So I propose that scheduling more transition time would be helpful. In business school, it would gives us time to come up with more questions, think about the bigger picture, and formulate our plans. In law school, it would allow us to think about more issues, come up with better arguments, and think about ways to approach problems.

And in the end, not only will it make everyone else in the room happier, but it’ll also create a more of an efficient outcome, which was your original goal in setting back to back meetings anyhow.

In short, think more about transition time. Schedule it. And then use it to maximize your outcome. Because in the end, everyone will be better off.

Sunday, January 15th, 2012 Business School, Careers

1 Comment to Transition Time

[…] participating in a sketch comedy show with classmates. Kellogg ’12 Jeremy extolled the virtues of factoring in ‘transition time.’ Darden ’12 Jonathan announced his post-grad plans to move to South Korea.  GW ’12 […]

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Jeremy C Wilson is a JD-MBA alumni using his site to share information on education, the social enterprise revolution, entrepreneurship, and doing things differently. Feel free to send along questions or comments as you read.

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The contents of this blog are mine personally and do not reflect the views or position of Kellogg, Northwestern Law, the JD-MBA program, or any firm that I work for. I only offer my own perspective on all issues.
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