I first started having the Monday Morning Meeting when I was still at university, and discussing the idea of setting up a film business with two friends. Every Monday the three of us would meet in the local café and work out what needed to be done during that week to realise our goals We would create a prioritised list of duties and activities, and afterwards I would gleefully dash off and try and complete as many of those tasks as I could, in preparation for the accountability of the following week’s meeting.
That fledgling business went nowhere, and I continued to operate as a solo freelancer after graduation, but I so loved the MMM that I kept it up. I know it sounds weird, but I have had a meeting with myself every Monday morning since those uni days over 20 years ago. Now that my company has grown I share that meeting time with other people here at C+B, but the principles remain the same.
The MMM* gives you a chance to start your week in a ‘business-like’ way, just as you might have a staff meeting or a team get-together when you work for someone else. The MMM creates a regular time during which you think about what you need to do for your creative business, what your goals are for this week, and how you’re going to keep yourself on track. Essentially, as it did for me in uni times, the MMM creates accountability in your business like a boss.
How you run your MMM is up to you, but some of the things you can do include :
- Go through all the deadlines you have for clients this week, and in the upcoming weeks. Are you on schedule? Have you allowed enough time to deliver your work?
- If you’re making or shipping product, are you on track? Is there anything you need to do this week to make your ship date? If you’re running behind, how can you catch up?
- Are you applying for grants or tenders? Have you left yourself enough time to complete all the forms and get the collateral in order?
- Work out your financials for the week. Do you have any bills to pay? Do you need to send any invoices to clients?
- Create a Comms List for the week. This is a list of all the people you need to communicate with, and how. Will you be calling them? Emailing? Skyping or meeting in person? When?
- Is there any research you need to be doing? Have you made time to read the various email newsletters and subscriptions that you get? What about that latest creative business book?
- How is your marketing? Do you need to make time to update social media or your LinkedIn profile? Does your website need a touch up?
- What about your business plan? Are your goals and larger timelines in order? Are you on track to achieve what you want for your creative business on a larger scale? What does next week hold – or next year? Have you planned a retreat for this year yet?
- What about your creative projects? Those “unicorns” that still need your time, even though they may not have a financial outcome – have you made time for your creativity as well?
Once you’ve worked through everything, create a prioritised list of activities that need to be completed in this week (on paper or electronically, it doens’t matter). Each morning, you can then consult the list and see how you’re getting on – check off as you go. Make sure, though, that the list only contains those tasks that you can genuinely achieve in the time that you’ve given yourself. A list as long as your arm will never be done and only serve to make you feel that you’re constantly playing catch up.
The next step is to make dedicated time in your calendar or diary to complete the tasks you’ve given yourself. I’ve found that if I don’t make the time, things simply don’t happen. I’m extremely intolerant to the word “later” – as far as I’m concerned, there’s no such thing. There’s only “now”, or a fixed time in the future. This obdurate attitude is made worse by the fact that my calendar is not my own – it’s shared with my fabulous manager Sarah who needs to book any of my unassigned time with vital activities, and my family, who always come first. Dedicated, committed time is the only answer – which means my MMM is always at 9am on a Monday, for 30 minutes, followed by 1 hour of research and admin time. No mucking around.
I know this all sounds very un-fun, but when work is over and fun time begins, it can happen in abundance. This is especially true for those who work from home. The MMM creates a clear distinction between leisure and working time, and that can be a great signal not just for yourself, but also for those in your home who need to know that you’re at work, even though you might still be in your PJs. Two clients of mine who are married, in a business partnership, AND working from home added a wonderful bookend to the MMM by instituting Friday Night Drinks. This rounds off the working week and helps them to relax.
Lastly, an unexpected bonus to the MMM is not just better time management, it helps to generate respect. You will start to treat the tasks and timelines that you set for yourself with the same degree of seriousness that you treat the deadlines set for you by clients. You’ll begin to be as respectful of your own creative business as you are for others. Once you take your own business seriously, and respect its inner workings, you’ll find that others will follow your lead.
It’s extraordinary how much benefit can come from half an hour, once a week, talking to yourself! Give it a try – what do you have to lose?
* The MMM does not have to be on a Monday – but it does need to be at the beginning of your working week, whenever that is!