Are You Addicted to Meetings? (and how to get rid of it!)


You may not realize it clearly, but the addiction meetings may be ruining your productivity and it is time to do something about it. In a far past, a ‘manager’ was defined as an individual who is in charge of a certain group of tasks, or a certain subset of a company. A manager often has a staff of people who report to him or her.

The modern definition is a little different valid particularly for project managers:: An individual who races through the halls or conference calls in a frantic attempt to make the next meeting on time while also answering e-mails on his or her mobile device and no longer have any time to manage the people who report to them.

Actually, is that exactly what is happening with you? If yes, this is the time to start thinking about how to change this situation. There are three basic strategies that can help you break that cycle and thus dramatically increase your daily productivity

You can’t give other people what you don’t have. So if you’re timeless; confused and scattered, your team will feel the same. You need to make time to get clear on what you want to achieve out of every interaction; this means spending more time on priorities, prep, and follow-up, and less time in meetings. Reducing your meeting time you’ll have more time to think strategically will require a group effort, but you can make it happen with some simple steps.

1. Reduce the number of meeting invitations you accept.: definitely you do not need to accept the invitation for all meetings for which you are invited. Going to a lot of meetings may make you feel important, but it’s not a good way to allocate your time. Before accepting a meeting invite, ask yourself, “Do I really need to attend?” If the answer is “no,” decline the meeting or use one of these less time-intensive :

  • Ask for a pre-meeting look at the agenda, so you can pass on your comments to the facilitator to share. (Bonus: this may force the facilitator to actually make an agenda!)
  • Send someone else from your group to communicate your team’s position.
  • Request a copy of the meeting notes after the fact.

2. Reduce the number of meetings you schedule / reduce their length: Do you used to schedule meetings where you spend most of the time talking — perhaps giving “updates” to a room of people subtly checking their phones? Do you default to scheduling hour-long meetings (or longer)? If so, you need to reprogram your default response of “when in doubt, schedule a 60-minute meeting.” Here’s a decision-tree that you can use as an effective replacement decision tree:

meetingtree

Your new default should be to choose the least “costly” time investment that still accomplishes the end goal. Don’t schedule a meeting for something that you can solve in a phone call,(and try to avoid the temptation of send an email!) If you must schedule meetings, challenge yourself to make them leaner and easy. Try out 45-minute or even 30-minute meetings, and set a goal to finish early. If you find you consistently need more time, you can increase the meeting length in the future, but often with increased focus, you won’t need it.

Once you are modeling good meeting etiquette, ask your direct reports to follow good meeting procedure, too:

  • Don’t schedule meetings for FYI items that you can communicate via e-mail. Only use meetings for discussions and decisions that must happen with a team, in real time.
  • Send a clear agenda when you send the meeting invitation — not two minutes before the meeting — so it’s easier for everyone to tell whether they need to attend.
  • Designate someone to take thorough notes on the discussion, the decisions, and the rationale behind those conclusions. Circulate those to your manager, and anyone else who might need to be in the loop — but doesn’t need to come to the meeting.

3. keep your calendar clear by blocking in work time: This is very important: Seize the freed-up time before it evaporates. As you transition from a reactive state to a proactive state, you might feel a little disoriented with all your new-found time.

Take time to answer emails (once in the morning, one before leaving for lunch and once in the late afternoon. Do not let the constant flow of e-mails take off your concentration of tasks that are really important); meeting prep, one-on-ones with direct reports, and strategic thinking time. Keep your commitments to yourself in the same way that you would with someone else so that you (and others) can trust you to get things done — and on time.

Finally, there are some useful tips from Nicholas Bate on his Boost Your Productivity file:

1. Always have an objective; how will we know that we’ve been successful in this meeting?

2. Always have an agenda; on this detai ltimings, allocations of responsibilities. Circulate this prior to the meeting.

3. Always have a chairperson to manage agenda and actions.

4. Never leave without actions fully agreed; ensure the chairperson specifically asks each person around the table: “what are your agreed actions?” Agree minutes there and then.

5. Be creative on timings. for example, make more meetings just 45 minutes in length rather than 60 minutes. Be bold and try ‘fasttrack’ 30 minute meetings.

6. Be creative on location to break patterns e.g. simply a different routine.

7. Be creative on physiology; remain standing e.g. we can’t sit down until the action has been agreed.

By cutting down on the number of meetings you’re in, you’ll free to focus on the really important tasks that you need to complete during your day. Don’t wait for tomorrow or next monday: chose your meeting wisely and START NOW!

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One thought on “Are You Addicted to Meetings? (and how to get rid of it!)

  1. Pingback: The Best of February 2013 | Nelson Biagio Jr

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