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Career Monday: A Foolproof Formula for Cutting Down on Excessive Meetings

 

 

Are you unable to complete your work because meetings are eating up your time? One study found that the average senior manager spends as much as 23 hours of their week in scheduled meetings. The figures are even higher if you add in the impromptu gatherings that occur in most workplaces.

There are logical reasons for why meetings tend to multiply. They provide an opportunity to collaborate and learn from each other.

However, when they start to feel overwhelming or pointless, they may actually lower morale and productivity.

Imagine what your workday would be like if meetings were less frequent and more productive. Try these suggestions for transforming your approach to meetings.

Making Meetings Less Frequent:

1. Consult your boss. There are steps you can take on your own to cut down on meetings. However, you’ll probably make more progress if you work as a team. Ask your boss if they’re interested in developing an overall strategy.

2. Clear the calendar. Do you attend weekly meetings whose origins are shrouded in mystery? It may be time to start from the ground up. Review each recurring meeting to ensure that it still serves a valid purpose.

3. Call first. Make a quick phone call to see if you can resolve the relevant issues before asking your colleagues to attend a meeting. You could also try handling it on your own or asking another employee for assistance.

4. Create meeting-free days. Take a day off from the conference room. Some companies have made a commitment to at least one day without meetings each week. This gives employees more time for tasks that benefit from deeper thought and fewer distractions.

5. Opt out. If you’re tactful about it, you may be able to turn down meeting invitations without causing any friction. Explain your conflict and propose an alternative like using project management tools or creating internal reference materials. It also helps to have a supportive boss.

Making Meetings More Productive:

1. Prepare an agenda. Keep your meeting on track by circulating a written agenda. It will provide a sense of direction and help participants to stick to the main subject.

2. Limit attendance. Most experts believe that meetings are more effective when they’re limited to about 8 participants. Larger groups often experience more difficulties with communication and decision making.

3. Shorten the time frame. Why schedule an hour-long meeting when 45 minutes will suffice? Having less time encourages greater focus and fewer conversations about items unrelated to the agenda.

4. Finish early. Give your colleagues an incentive to be concise. Make it a habit to end meetings ahead of time when the work is completed.

5. Stand up. Try conducting some of your meetings standing up or walking around. You’ll be less likely to want to linger on a cushioned seat because you’re sleepy. You may also think and speak more clearly when you’re on your feet.

6. Ban browsing. Do you want to join the ranks of companies that prohibit phones and other devices from meetings? On the other hand, you may be satisfied with a policy for muting phones and using devices only for tasks relevant to the meeting.

7. Upgrade your technology. Then again, some technology may enhance your meetings. Use video conference calls and screen sharing applications to keep things interesting and accomplish more in less time.

8. Provide leader training. Talk with your employer about providing training for employees who conduct meetings. It may help you to build morale and achieve your objectives.

Meetings can encourage collaboration and strengthen professional relationships. Work with your employer to ensure that your meetings are essential and successful.

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