Meeting

Myth: We need to be at all those meetings and events that have made their way onto our calendars.
Reality: We can succeed at work and be happy with a modest number of meetings and activities. Do you say any of these things?

  • I haven’t been home at 6 o’clock in the evening for weeks.
  • We are constantly trying to balance work with kids’ activities with family commitments.
  • I have to schedule a date with my spouse so we have time to talk.
  • If only I had 30 hours in a day.
  • My meetings are back to back all day.
  • Time for myself – ha!

If you are feeling overbooked, you probably are! The solution… manage your meetings!

In many environments long meetings are held. Often these meetings are two to three times longer than they need to be. And, quite possibly you are needed for only a fraction of the time you’re in the room.

Examination of attendance at some meetings reveals that 25% of people there we necessary to conduct the business at hand. That is to say that 75% of the people there were not necessary and wasting their time. Other meetings the necessity for attendance 50/50 and sometime everyone needs to be there.

If you feel meeting overload step back and use a critical eye to view your role in them. If you’d like to alter your meeting load consider if any of the following suggestions could free you up.

  • Do you ask for an agenda for the meeting so you’re certain of the scope of the topics fits your involvement?
  • Is there are ways to run the meetings more efficiently?
  • Could someone summarize the meeting for you in person or in a memo in a fraction of the time spent in a meeting?
  • Could you attend just the portion of the meeting that pertains to your role and responsibility?
  • Could the minutes or notes from the meeting serve your need for information?
  • Are the meetings contributing to your success in your position or moving you toward your next position? If not, give it a miss.
  • Is this an enjoyable group of people with good intentions but the topic is not really related to your goals? If so parforce, is it just throwing your day schedule off more than helping it? (particularly applicable for non-job-related meetings and volunteer/community committees).
  • What is the worst that could happen if you don’t attend?

Experiment. Think like the CEO of your career that you are. As CEO everyone wants your time but you only have so much of it. Jack Welch, when the head of GE, would give presenters 8 minutes to make their points then he’d cut them off. Presenters learned to put only their important points out there and to stick to the time schedule. Do you, could you, deliver your important points in just a few minutes? Could you require others in your meetings to be brief and relevant? Could less significant topics be covered offline if they have to be covered at all?

A very difficult reply to meeting invites is, “No.” So, try softer versions such as, “No Thanks for thinking of me though.” “I would like to but I have other commitments.” “I’m pretty sure I couldn’t’ contribute to the meeting because I don’t have the expertise and time to give it fair attention. I, however, think that TJ might be able to help you.”

It’s your time, protect it!

Previous Myths:

Susan Sabo is an intrepid traveler who has organized her life to be out of the country for months at a time. She’s visited South & Central America, Europe, Asia, ‘Down Under” and traveled across North America. Susan writes at productivitycafe.com, consults with professionals on improving their personal productivity and presents motivating productivity programs & tips to groups. The most popular presentation topic today is, How to Get Ready for the Busy Season.

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