Meetings are a part of most people’s working life to one extent or another. Some spend 10-15 percent of their time in meetings while others (often managers) spend up to 70-80 percent. Often they are very time consuming and unproductive then what they could be. Because meetings consume a pretty big part of many people’s workdays, an important part of self-management is learning to deal with the volume of meetings and making them more effective. You can also schedule the meetings in different ways during the workday to be more effective.
4 Tips to reduce the length of meetings
1. Shorter meetings: Book shorter meetings - they don’t always need to be a full- or half-hour. Sometimes just 15-20 minutes is sufficient.
2. Relevance: Consider whether the meeting you are invited to is relevant to you and if it will help you achieve your goals. Do not go to meetings just because you’re invited. Ask for an agenda and for the purpose of the meeting in order to decide whether to devote time to it or not.
3. Written: If possible, ask to get information on what was raised at the meeting sent to you afterwards in writing.
4. Keep time: Do not sit waiting in meetings that do not start on time. Ask the person who convened the meeting to notify you when the meeting begins. If the meeting extends beyond the allotted time and the subject is not relevant to you, don’t stay.
Meetings can easily mess up both your work and your working day, and you can easily lose focus when meetings are spread out. It often becomes difficult to get started with major tasks. Plan more effective meetings to get the most out of your week and workdays.
1. Blocs of meeting time: Plan meetings in blocs of time and allow a 15-minute break between each session. This way you get more continuous time for your own work. Strive to get at least get 2-3 hours of continuous working hours in a day. Try to restrict appointments to certain days or half days so you get undisturbed work time in the office.
2. External appointments: Schedule external meetings on the way to/from work or during lunch to save time moving around during your working day.
3. Manage visitors: Try to get external people to visit your office to avoid having to travel.
4. Time at the day: You are often more productive and focused in the morning and more creative in the afternoon. That is why you should schedule meetings where you need to be focused in the morning.
When participating in a meeting, you can increase productivity with your behavior and attitude, and communicate this in a transparent and constructive manner. You can exert a lot of control and influence over those meetings for which you are responsible.
1. Create guidelines: Meetings are not particularly productive when participants are doing other things instead. Take the initiative to establish guidelines to be followed during the meeting regarding punctuality, cell phones, computers, etc. Creating guidelines tends to cut down on meeting time and can also reduce conflicts.
2. Structure: If you sit in a meeting that has no agenda or no structure you can suggest quickly creating an agenda with the other participants. Poor preparation often leads to very little getting done. You can also suggest convening a new meeting when the necessary preparations have been made.
3. Stick to the topic: When meetings begin to wander off track you can help the person leading the meeting get back to the agenda by, for example, saying, “This is a really interesting question but we’re short on time – where are we in the agenda?”.