One of the biggest complaints I hear from clients is that
they spent too much time in meetings and that the meetings are a waste of time. In this post, I’m pulling together information and practical strategies to determine if your meetings are effective and how to optimise your time investment.
Attending countless meetings is no one’s idea of fun and it’s sad that they can consume a significant portion of our workday. It’s important for all of us to ensure that we are attending and creating meetings that are productive, purposeful, and aligned with our goals.
Problem 1. Too Many Meetings
If you find yourself overwhelmed with too many meetings, it’s crucial to be decisive about which ones you attend.
Evaluate each meeting and ask yourself the following questions:
– Do the meetings support your goals and projects? Is it genuinely necessary for you to attend?
– Can you attend only a portion of the meeting or share it with a colleague?
– Is it possible to have your item discussed either first or last, allowing you to attend only a part of the meeting?
– Can you obtain the minutes and relevant information without physically attending?
Problem 2. Excessive Travel Time
If excessive travel time is eating into your productivity, explore alternative options such as video or teleconferencing. By leveraging technology and strategic planning, you can significantly reduce the impact of travel time on your productivity. We’re so good at this now due to Covid that I doubt you’d get too much pushback.
Or how about rotating the meeting locations or opt for a centralised meeting place, reducing travel time for all participants?
Distractions and Interruptions
Problem 3. Meetings Taking Away from ‘Actual Work’
To prevent meetings from overshadowing other critical tasks, implement strategies to minimise reporting and limit discussions to decision-making matters.
Consider the following approaches:
– Clearly define meeting agendas to focus primarily on decision-making topics.
– Make sure that you are only attending meetings that you really must go to
Problem 4. Meetings Occur Too Often
If meetings seem to occur too often, it’s crucial to review their effectiveness and adjust accordingly.
Take some time to evaluate the success of each meeting at its conclusion, and based on that assessment, determine when and whether to hold the next meeting.
– Plan meetings strategically throughout the year to align with essential decision-making periods or scheduled reviews.
By evaluating and adjusting the frequency of meetings, you can optimise your time allocation.
Before you accept your next meeting invitation ask yourself the following:
- Are the meeting objectives clear? If not, go back for clarification.
- Is there an effective agenda – objectives, decisions required, start and end time? If not, request one or again, ask for more clarification.
- Have I prepared sufficiently? If not, will my attendance be a waste of my time and everyone else’s? If you haven’t prepared, make a change the next time an agenda comes out- schedule prep time into your calendar in advance for reading and note preparation time.
There are times for meetings for sure, they can be very effective in getting things done. It’s when a workplace gets meeting happy that meetings become a burden. By being selective in your attendance, exploring alternative meeting formats, streamlining agendas, and communicating about this openly as a team, you can optimise your meetings. Remember, the objective is to ensure that your meetings are purposeful, efficient, and contribute to your overall success. So take control of your time, and make your meetings work for you.