Are Your Meetings Productive?

meetingsAs with many of you, writing has never been one of my favorites. Now reading and learning – that is another story.  I always like to write about things that I love to learn about and one of those areas is how to be more efficient, to help more people in less time. 

Michael Hyatt has become one of my favorite authors and he has short and to the point blogs about efficiency and productivity.  His blog “Shave 10 Hours off Your Workweek” has some great tips.  One that I felt was the most prudent for most of my colleagues is “Fix or Quit Terrible Meetings.” 

Now let’s be real, how many of us have sat in meetings and wondered why we are actually there.  Of all the time killers in our workweek, meetings seem to be the biggest and have you ever asked yourself “Do I go to more productive meetings or meetings that are a waste of time?”

As Michael points out many times the meeting organizer isn’t prepared, the meeting objective isn’t defined, or you can’t really affect the outcome one way or the other.  Because meetings take up much of our time that could be productive in accomplishing our work, we try and take our work into our meetings.  We answer emails, try to finish reports, do prep for the next meeting, etc.  According to Harris-Clarizen poll, only two in five meeting attendees are not trying to multitask their way through meetings.  All in all, the unproductive meetings take more of our time and do not produce results.   

Michael brings up 5 ways to get some of your “meeting” time back.

1.    First, cancel standing meetings that no longer add value, if it’s in your power to do so.  Nothing is more appreciated by employees than a canceled meeting. Do it a couple of times, and it’s almost as welcome as a three-day weekend.  If the meeting isn’t adding the value necessary, be a hero and kill it.

2.    Second, challenge meetings that others have scheduled if you no longer believe they add value.Every meeting should have a clearly stated objective and a written agenda. If you don’t have these two minimal items, or they don’t line up with the desired outcome, push back. There’s nothing wrong with killing other people’s meetings if they’re not worth continuing.

3.    Third, consider or suggest alternatives to meetings. Sometimes we default to meetings even if they’re not the best solution for the team or the project we are trying to address.

4.    Fourth, cut—or recommend cutting—the length of meetings. The longer the allotted meeting time, the more likely it is that time is being wasted. Try cutting meeting times in half and see if you can still accomplish what needs to be done.

5.    Fifth, stop attending low-impact meetings. If the content of the meeting is irrelevant to you and your job, or if you don’t feel that you really add that much to the discussion, ask to be excused. And in some contexts you can just excuse yourself. What are you waiting for? Be you own hero!