The one hack I use to never show up to a meeting unprepared

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If you’re like me, you have a lot of meetings throughout the week. Maybe you’re having a one-on-one meeting with one of your most important team members. You can meet with potential or current vendors. And maybe you will take on a few selected sales or customer talks. Meetings add up quickly, and it’s easy to lose track of what each meeting is about. Even with a busy meeting schedule, there’s a trick I use to never show up to a meeting unprepared.

All in all, it’s important to mention personal assistants and how valuable they can be when it comes to getting a handle on your calendar and schedule overall. My assistant knows my scheduling preferences. If I let others invite me to meetings, my calendar would quickly become a huge mess and my daily focus time would no longer exist. So having you there to plan things for me saves a lot of time. That leads me to my hack.

You and I have a “ghost” planning system. As an example of how it works, last week I gave an hour and a half presentation on how to find and hire a personal assistant for your business group that was organized as a straightforward event on my calendar. His assistant emailed the calendar invitation and I accepted. But instead of just putting the one event on my calendar, I had two in the same time slot. My assistant and I have the so-called main appointment and a ghost appointment.

What is the difference? The first calendar invitation is a shared appointment sent by the meeting organizer. This is the kind of meeting everyone is used to. The ghost date is the same date, but only to my eyes. My assistant will label it ‘GHOST’ and will color coordinate it for me so that it is clearly separated from the original appointment together. When I see GHOST and the same meeting details, I know there is sensitive or additional information that I may need for the meeting. This could include things like attendee or host bios, meeting notes I’d like to share during the call, details about a potential vendor, etc. This simple hack makes it so easy for me to stay organized and never show up to a meeting unprepared — all my notes are in one place.

Whether you have a personal assistant (which I highly recommend) or manage your calendar yourself, this simple hack can help you stay organized and ahead of the game at all your business meetings.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own and not those of Inc.com.

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