Highly effective people will tell you endless stories about people who aren’t prepared. There is nothing more frustrating than taking quality time to sit in a meeting and have someone who has had months to prepare a presentation or research some background information tell you they didn’t get it done. Prepare for meetings. Be noted for quality contribution.

Use the 80-20 Rule

If you have promised to prepare for something, start on it right away. Research your information. Find and price alternatives. Open a file and collect materials so you can assemble and organize all that is needed well before the time you need to write or ready your presentation.

The more critical your information is to the desired outcome, the more attention you should devote to its preparation.

“Some issues require more time for reflection than others. Too often I catch myself praying for wisdom and guidance; then I go off and make a decision without a pause. God does not always provide answers with the speed of a McDonald’s drive through window. “

Patrick Klingaman, Thank God It's Monday

Five Days of Action

If you have promised to prepare for something in the past, how well have you done? What is your history of being prepared for meetings? Providing background information? For other events in which you had to play a part? Can you be counted on? Effective people do their homework. This is the day to make a decision that from now on, you will be prepared.

If last minute preparation has been your norm, try doing your prep work well in advance. Nearing the deadline then becomes about reviewing your notes and refining your thoughts. The same work needs to be done, just complete it earlier. You will find that the stress relief is significant.

Create a file for an upcoming meeting for which you need to gather information or materials. This should be a place where you can return easily to review what you have. A little organization now will make your preparation smoother and less stressful.

How much of the outcome is dependent upon the preparation that you are doing? This should indicate to you the quality of time and energy you should put into being ready. Whether or not anyone sees your effort, determine that this will have your full attention and best work.

If your preparation work has been insufficient for those you work with, apologize … and change. Stop being the road-block and start being a catalyst for forward movement.