Stop! Too Many Meetings!

Today’s business culture has too many meetings.

No, it’s not an opinion. It’s a fact. Polls of today’s businesses have shown it’s not unusual for employee to spend 8 hours or more in meetings each week. To put that in perspective, that’s one full day of work spent in meetings. Some companies report as many as 14-16 hours a week in meetings.

In the meantime, deadlines are missed, clients are frustrated, and none of the work is getting done.

Sound familiar? If it does, take comfort in the fact that you’re in good company. The good news is, there’s a meeting revolution sweeping today’s business culture. An increasing number of organizations are looking for ways to improve employee productivity, and eliminating meetings plays a big part in that.

Here are 8 to the top tips for you and your management team to cut back meetings and reclaim your time:

  • Block time out of each day to tackle your to-do list. I saw this most recently on a visit to a health care clinic. Every employee calendar had client visits scheduled in, with 2-3 hours at the end of the day exclusively set aside for dealing with paperwork. Meetings had to be scheduled in between. Make sure you’re always blocking out your calendar 2-3 weeks ahead. Prioritizing your work is the only way to ensure that everything gets done on time.

Need help figuring out how much time to block out of each day? Read about how you can give our online time tracking tools a try.

  • Establish a “Meeting Day”. All formal meetings take place one day a week. I like this one, because it forces people to develop an agenda and think ahead. What day it is doesn’t matter, although I would recommend planning around your regular workflow. For some companies, this means meeting on Monday to lay out a plan for the upcoming week. For others, Friday is the best day to update and evaluate progress. Others like Wednesday, because it breaks up the week and allows any issues to be addressed before they have the chance to snowball.
  • Evaluate the necessity of each meeting. Do you really need to meet? Or is the issue you’re covering something that could be dropped in an email or discussed in a group chat? Many companies are guilty of scheduling a meeting for every item that pops up on their agenda. That includes scheduling meetings to talk about having meetings! Unless you know you’re going to need to get everyone face to face, try putting it in an email first.
  • Eliminate regular meetings. If your morning huddle is vital for keeping each team member appraised, by all means, keep it on the agenda. But if you often find that your routine meetings are lasting 10 minutes or less while everyone looks at each other with nothing to say, it’s time to get it off the calendar.
  • Establish and distribute an agenda for each meeting. This is another great way to force people to think ahead, and to have a specific objective for each meeting to prevent participants from talking in circles. This also allows your team to come prepared to answer questions and present any materials, which will cut back on the time the meeting needs to take place.
  • Don’t be afraid to decline. The other benefit of having an agenda for each meeting is that it allows each participant to determine if they really need to attend or if they have higher priority tasks to attend to. If you see a meeting pop up on your calendar that doesn’t vitally require your presence, don’t hesitate to politely let the meeting host know your agenda is already quite full and they’ll need to proceed without you.
  • Keep meetings to 30 minutes or less, and make sure you’re ending on time. Most meetings don’t really need the full hour most hosts request when they’re setting up meetings. Keeping meetings to 30 minutes or less will help keep everyone on task.

Meetings aren’t always the wrong choice, but like any work task, they need to be properly handled. By implementing these tips, your organization will continue to use meetings for the purpose for which they were intended, and your team won’t struggle to get things done! You should time track how much time you spend on meetings and you might be surprised!