managing meeting madness

While essential for enabling collaboration, creativity and fostering relationships, meetings can be one of the biggest time wasters in organisations.

It’s been estimated that Senior Managers spend around 23 hours per week in meetings (MIT Sloan) and every minute spent in a wasteful meeting eats into time for creativity, deep-thinking work and comes at a significant cost to the organisation.

Harvard Business Review found (surveyed 182 senior managers in a range of industries):

  • 65% said meetings keep them from completing their own work,
  • 71% said meetings are unproductive and inefficient,
  • 64% said meetings come at the expense of deep thinking,
  • 62% said meetings miss opportunities to bring the team closer together,
  • Only 17% reported that their meetings are generally productive.

My favourite tip to manage meeting madness – make reducing time in wasteful meetings your top time management priority.

  • Stop accepting meeting requests blindly:
    • Don’t accept a meeting request without a clear purpose agenda and outcome.
    • Confirm why you are required to attend – is it to approve a decision, get an update, resolve an issue.  Perhaps someone else from your team is more suited, or an email update would be enough.
  • Stop defaulting meeting times to 30 or 60 mins.
  • Rather than allowing meetings to be scattered throughout your calendar, allocate ‘meeting time’ in your calendar and do them back to back . Research from Ohio State University found the time between meetings is used less productively, with 22% less work done, and meetings scattered throughout your diary leaves less blocks of time for focused, deep-thinking work.
  • Remove distractions – have a no devices allowed rule (phones, laptops, etc.).  They distract people, information is missed or required to be repeated and it sends a really poor message about your engagement if you are scrolling through your phone while someone is speaking. Your meetings will be more productive and people more engaged with a no-tech rule.
  • Trial meeting free days.
  • Review all regular/standing meetings – are they meeting the objective and adding value, if not, get rid of them.

Changing the meeting culture in a team or organisation takes work.  But, if you involve your team in the changes, communicate why it’s important, set some improvement targets and honestly review if the change is working your team you will discover more effective and new ways of working together.

What are your tips to manage meeting madness?

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