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How to Make Meetings Twice as Productive

How to Make Meetings Twice as Productive

Many companies have gotten into the habit of scheduling an unnecessary number of meetings with their employees, leading to employee frustration and irritation. In addition to unhappy employees, there has been an abundance of research showing that most meetings are a productivity killer! So how you make meetings more productive? Follow these tips:

 1. Create a “parking lot”

Employees can become frustrated when conversations begin to trail away from the original agenda of the meeting. This leads to a lot of meetings running over their scheduled times, causing annoyance and stress among employees. What would a great leader do to prevent this common occurrence? Create a list of “parking lot” topics as the meeting is in session. If something comes up during a meeting that is an important issue or valid point, but just not relevant to the current agenda, write it down so you can schedule a follow-up time to discuss it. For example, if a meeting has been scheduled to discuss hiring new distributors, don’t let the conversation turn to the results of a recent business-to-consumer marketing campaign. Let employees know that you’re acknowledging the importance of that issue, but it’s not the time or the place to discuss it.

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2. Be mindful when scheduling

As much as you would like to think that your employees are 100% tuned into everything you have to say at all times during the workweek, you’re wrong. Monday morning is the unofficial designated time to catch up on whatever emails came through over the weekend, and plan for the remainder of the week. Scheduling a meeting during this time means you’ll have employees with a lot on their mind, not paying close attention to what you’re discussing. The same goes for Friday afternoons, where people are more concerned with wrapping up for the day in order to get out of the office at a reasonable time. If possible, try to schedule meetings for the middle of the week, and never do it during a lunch hour!

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3. Leave the laptops

We’ve all been in meetings where the distracting click click clack sound of typing has caused us to lose focus of what’s being presented. Make it a blanket rule in the office to leave laptops behind when attending a meeting. Not only will this prevent people from searching the web or checking emails, it’s also been proven that taking notes with a pen and paper is more effective!

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4. Weekly meetings don’t have to be weekly

It’s not uncommon to have a weekly meeting scheduled on your employees’ calendar, whether it’s a one-on-one check-in or a team meeting to discuss upcoming projects. However, it’s important to note that there will not always be updates or items to discuss on a weekly basis, and whenever that is the case, give your employees time back in their day by canceling for the week. Even though the meeting is automatically scheduled to occur every week, it’s not set in stone! Be respectful of your time, and your employees’ time and only meet when necessary.

5. Be prepared for technical issues.

Hosting a meeting that requires a PowerPoint presentation or audio conference? It’s your responsibility to plan ahead for technical disasters. Get to the meeting room before your meeting is scheduled to begin, and work out any issues with the equipment. Don’t wait until the scheduled start time to get everything plugged in and up on the screen, while your employees sit around twiddling their thumbs. It’s the little details like this that lead to employee frustration with the number of meetings on their calendar.

What are your secrets to keeping meetings effective and productive for employees? Tell us in the comments below!

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Joel Goldstein

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Last Updated on August 16, 2018

16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

The same old motivational secrets don’t really motivate you after you’ve read them for the tenth time, do they?

How about a unique spin on things?

These 16 productivity secrets of successful people will make you reevaluate your approach to your home, work, and creative lives. Learn from these highly successful people, turn these little things they do into your daily habits and you’ll get closer to success.

1. Empty your mind.

It sounds counterproductive, doesn’t it?

Emptying your mind when you have so much to remember seems like you’re just begging to forget something. Instead, this gives you a clean slate so you’re not still thinking about last week’s tasks.

Clear your mind and then start thinking only about what you need to do immediately, and then today. Tasks that need to be accomplished later in the week can wait.

Here’s a guide to help you empty your mind and think sharper:

How to Declutter Your Mind to Sharpen Your Brain and Fall Asleep Faster

2. Keep certain days clear.

Some companies are scheduling “No Meeting Wednesdays,” which means, funnily enough, that no one can hold a meeting on a Wednesday. This gives workers a full day to work on their own tasks, without getting sidetracked by other duties or pointless meetings.

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This can work in your personal life too, for example if you need to restrict Facebook access or limit phone calls.

3. Prioritize your work.

Don’t think every task is created equal! Some tasks aren’t as important as others, or might take less time.

Try to sort your tasks every day and see what can be done quickly and efficiently. Get these out of the way so you have more free time and brain power to focus on what is more important.

Lifehack’s CEO has a unique way to prioritize works, take a look at it here:

How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

4. Chop up your time.

Many successful business leaders chop their time up into fifteen-minute intervals. This means they work on tasks for a quarter of an hour at a time, or schedule meetings for only fifteen minutes. It makes each hour seem four times as long, which leads to more productivity!

5. Have a thinking position.

Truman Capote claimed he couldn’t think unless he was laying down. Proust did this as well, while Stravinsky would stand on his head!

What works for others may not work for you. Try to find a spot and position that is perfect for you to brainstorm or come up with ideas.

6. Pick three to five things you must do that day.

To Do lists can get overwhelming very quickly. Instead of making a never-ending list of everything you can think of that needs to be done, make daily lists that include just three to five things.

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Make sure they’re things that need to be done that day, so you don’t keep putting them off.

7. Don’t try to do too much.

OK, so I just told you to work every day, and now I’m telling you to not do too much? It might sound like conflicting advice, but not doing too much means not biting off more than you can chew. Don’t say yes to every work project or social engagement and find yourself in way over your head.

8. Have a daily action plan.

Don’t limit yourself to a to-do list! Take ten minutes every morning to map out a daily action plan. It’s a place to not only write what needs to be done that day, but also to prioritize what will bring the biggest reward, what will take the longest, and what goals will be accomplished.

Leave room for a “brain dump,” where you can scribble down anything else that’s on your mind.

9. Do your most dreaded project first.

Getting your most dreaded task over with first means you’ll have the rest of the day free for anything and everything else. This also means that you won’t be constantly putting off the worst of your projects, making it even harder to start on it later.

10. Follow the “Two-Minute Rule.”

The “Two-Minute Rule” was made famous by David Allen. It’s simple – if a new task comes in and it can be done in two minutes or less, do it right then. Putting it off just adds to your to-do list and will make the task seem more monumental later.

11. Have a place devoted to work.

If you work in an office, it’s no problem to say that your cubicle desk is where you work every day.

But if you work from home, make sure you have a certain area specifically for work. You don’t want files spread out all over the dinner table, and you don’t want to feel like you’re not working just because you’re relaxing on the couch.

Agatha Christie never wrote at her desk, she wrote wherever she could sit down. Ernest Hemingway wrote standing up. Thomas Wolfe, at 6’6″ tall, used the top of his refrigerator as a desk. Richard Wright wrote on a park bench, rain or shine.

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Have a space where, when you go there, you know you’re going to work. Maybe it’s a cafe downstairs, the library, or a meeting room. Whenever and wherever works for you, do your works there.

12. Find your golden hour.

You don’t have to stick to a “typical” 9–5 schedule!

Novelist Anne Rice slept during the day and wrote at night to avoid distractions. Writer Jerzy Kosinski slept eight hours a day, but never all at once. He’d wake in the morning, work, sleep four hours in the afternoon, then work more that evening.

Your golden hour is the time when you’re at your peak. You’re alert, ready to be productive, and intent on crossing things off your to-do list.

Once you find your best time, protect it with all your might. Make sure you’re always free to do your best uninterrupted work at this time.

13. Pretend you’re on an airplane.

It might not be possible to lock everyone out of your office to get some peace and quiet, but you can eliminate some distractions.

By pretending you’re on an airplane, you can act like your internet access is limited, you’re not able to get something from your bookcase, and you can’t make countless phone calls.

Eliminating these distractions will help you focus on your most important tasks and get them done without interruption.

14. Never stop.

Writers Anthony Trollope and Henry James started writing their next books as soon as they finished their current work in progress.

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Stephen King writes every day of the year, and holds himself accountable for 2,000 words a day! Mark Twain wrote every day, and then read his day’s work aloud to his family to get their feedback.

There’s something to be said about working nonstop, and putting out continuous work instead of taking a break. It’s just a momentum that will push you go further./

15. Be in tune with your body.

Your mind and body will get tired of a task after ninety minutes to two hours focused on it. Keep this in mind as you assign projects to yourself throughout the day, and take breaks to ensure that you won’t get burned out.

16. Try different methods.

Vladimir Nabokov wrote the first drafts of his novels on index cards. This made it easy to rearrange sentences, paragraphs, and chapters by shuffling the cards around.

It does sound easier, and more fun, than copying and pasting in Word! Once Nabokov liked the arrangement, his wife typed them into a single manuscript.

Same for you, don’t give up and think that it’s impossible for you to be productive when one method fails. Try different methods until you find what works perfectly for you.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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