How to manage tasks from lots of different meetings

When I was a Branch Manager for a High Street bank, there was an important rule that the cashiers and personal bankers all followed.  Wherever possible they would complete all the actions arising from a contact with a customer while the customer was still with them.  Of course, the temptation would be to note down the tasks and do them later, focusing instead on getting to serve the next person.  However, completing everything straight away has a number of benefits:

  1. If there are any problems, you can instantly ask more questions
  2. The task definitely gets done and does not end up getting lost or pushed down a priority list
  3. It all gets done more quickly since all the details are fresh in your mind
  4. You can move on to the next person without your mind still thinking about the outstanding task

In my current role it most often looks like sending an email with an attachment or updating a document while I am still meeting with someone.  Of course, some tasks are too big to do instantly.  In that case I will create a note in my task management system instead, including all the details I need.

For me the main benefit is number 4 in the list above.  A lot of my week involves moving from one meeting to another with a complete shift in topic.  This simple rule enables me to be present and focused on the current people I am with, without failing to follow-up on commitments from my last meeting.  It also saves time, but I have no idea how much.  On Inc.com, Dave Kerpen claims that it is ‘The 1 Work Hack That Will Save You 900 Hours a Year‘!  Head over to the post to see his take on the subject.

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