“I spend my day in meetings… I have to work late to get anything done… meetings run my life.”
Does any of that sound familiar?
We don’t have enough time to do it all and meetings somehow triumph over everything else. This is something you can change, even if your company is meeting-tastic.
5 Tips to put time back in your day
1. Every Monday morning look at the meetings across the whole week. Which ones would be cancelled if you weren’t there? Be honest and brutal, everyone would like you there but often it’s status more than input.
Keep the ones you are essential to, for the rest, think about who could go for you occasionally. Brief them on their role, what they need to know and ask them to report back with an update.
By passing the meeting to someone else, you are allowing people in your team to gain experience and exposure within your company. It’s not shirking responsibility, it is managing responsibly.
2. Change the length of the meetings. If your team has set up the meeting, and where possible when you send an acceptance for meetings, propose 45 minutes as the length. Remind people when the meeting starts that it is just for 45 minutes and be clear about the finish time.
Amazingly, when people focus and have to tighten up their conversations, everything still gets discussed.
3. Don’t let your meeting get held hostage by people dribbling in and others dribbling out. So much time is wasted because someone is late. Encourage the meeting owner to start. The late comers will catch up. It doesn’t hurt to remind people the meeting waits for no one.
4. Try stand up meetings. When you call a meeting for a quick consultation or to share news, ask everyone to stay standing. Explain this will be quick. If someone flops into a chair, tell them “this is a stand up meeting, would you join us standing?”
I’ve had personal experience with this and it works. Stay concise, everyone soon learns these meeting get right to the point and will be wrapped up in ten minutes or less.
5. Ask for a cross company re-evaluation of continuous weekly meetings. Can they be changed to biweekly? Can they be shorter? If everyone took time to evaluate on-going meeting invitations for their frequency, duration and essential guests it would release hours back into most people’s week.
We get sucked into meeting overload because most of us look at our calendar, discover we are due in a meeting in a few minutes and dash off. Then we sit there stewing when we realize that we didn’t need to be there at all.
Take control back, give yourself more of your week to do the work you had planned. You get the added bonus of time to think. We don’t do our best thinking by committee.
When you’ve grabbed that time back, you might be surprised that that you get out of the office on time, at least a few nights of the week.