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How to Kill Endless Meetings and Stay Productive

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How to Kill Endless Meetings and Stay Productive

We’re in the middle of a meeting epidemic. Executives now spend an average of 23 hours a week in meetings, with 71 percent reporting that those meetings are generally unproductive and inefficient.[1]

Despite their drawbacks, meetings remain an integral part of any modern workplace. The rise of office silos and remote workers make regular check-ins an absolute must for keeping everyone on the same page. Meetings aren’t going away anytime soon, so how can we work to cut down on their time and productivity drains?

Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer to this question. While it’s impossible to take one simple step to eliminate meeting waste, you can start considering your meetings not as routines, but as investments. Instead of regularly planning and attending meetings thoughtlessly, think beforehand about how you can get the greatest ROI on the time you spend effectively meeting with others.

If you’re looking to put an end to endless meetings and start having productive meetings in your workplace, here are a few places to start:

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1. Optimize Your Meetings in Advance

The single biggest cause of meeting overload isn’t ingrained habits or bad office policy; it’s bad meetings. Most meetings begin without any agenda to speak of, and directionless meetings are hardly meetings at all.

A meeting that accomplishes nothing is bound to simply lead to more meetings down the line. You can put an end to this cycle by scheduling valuable, productive meetings for your team.

Start by focusing on the purpose of a meeting. Every meeting you have should be necessary for your success, as well as your business’s and employees’ success. Moreover, meetings that cover too many topics or areas are likely to go over their planned time and alienate participants.

Remember, productive meetings only last as long as they absolutely need to. To train yourself to shorten meetings, you can use tools like “speedy meetings” if you learn more about google calendar. This allows you to automatically shorten your scheduled meetings by five minutes so you have time to get things done in between meetings.

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2. Make Your Meetings Democratic

Who schedules meetings in an office? Generally, executives and upper management are the ones who call meetings and set their agendas. While it’s important for those in charge to get their directives across to other employees, meetings that come directly from above aren’t going to be very engaging for everyone else.

Instead, try planning some meetings from the ground up. Deciding on a direction or general topic for a meeting before asking for concerns or questions from your employees goes a long way toward keeping people engaged in meetings, and meeting engagement is one of the best ways to keep meetings short but meaningful. Even something simple like an anonymous Google poll can give attendees the freedom to make their voices heard.

3. Invite the Right People

We’ve all been there — sitting in a meeting and silently wondering why we’re even there in the first place. Every minute someone spends in a meeting they don’t belong in is a minute wasted, and it even has the potential to drag down the efficiency of the meeting itself.[2]

One way of figuring out who belongs in a meeting — and who doesn’t — is to go back to the meeting’s focus. With the topic of the meeting in mind, think about who either would directly benefit from hearing that topic discussed or would have something meaningful to add to the discussion.

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Meeting attendance goes both ways, however. If, while deciding on the makeup of your next meeting, you leave out someone who should’ve been there, a significant amount of time could be wasted trying to catch that person up.

Make sure to think a bit outside the box when it comes to who really belongs in a meeting. If your design team is meeting, for example, it would probably be best to have a product manager and software engineer sit in to make sure that everything discussed is in line with other teams’ goals, too. Trends seem to support this theory.[3] The right guest list for a meeting now could save several future meetings later.

4. Use Digital Tools Instead

Technology like video conferencing has made meetings easier than ever, regardless of where participants are or what they’re doing. The proliferation of technology has also produced a new wave of apps that make it increasingly possible to drastically cut down on the number of meetings in your office.

Communication platforms like Slack let you create separate channels for people to chat. For some of your meetings, consider creating a dedicated Slack channel for that topic instead of hosting an in-person meeting. Ask the relevant questions you want answered, or start a discussion. Watch as a digital meeting takes place without anyone needing to fully stop working.

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Other collaboration apps like Trello let everyone see exactly what everyone else is working on, eliminating the need for constant check-in meetings. If there’s a certain type of meeting you’re looking to cut down on, search for software that can transfer the function of that meeting to a digital space.

Bad meetings are eating away at company revenue the world over, so it’s important to do what you can to get your office’s meeting schedule under control. By thinking about meetings as assets for your business, you can make the most of one of corporate America’s favorite pastimes.

More About Productivity at Work

Featured photo credit: Maranda Vandergriff via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Harvard Business Review: Stop the Meeting Madness
[2] Harvard Business Review: How Working Parents Can Get the Most Out of Calendar Apps
[3] Hotjar: CX trends for 2019

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John Hall

John Hall is the co-founder and president of Calendar, a leading scheduling and productivity app that will change how we manage and invest our time.

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Last Updated on September 9, 2021

10 Best Productivity Planners To Get More Done in 2021

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10 Best Productivity Planners To Get More Done in 2021

Productivity planners and journals are tools of a trade. There’s an art to productivity. Just like art is very personal to the artist, productivity is very personal to the person. What works for you may not work for me. This is an important distinction if you really want get more done in less time.

Too many of us dabble in productivity hacks only to move on to the next tool or trend when it didn’t workout for us, missing the lesson of what worked and didn’t work about that tool or trend.

We put the tool on a pedestal and miss the art. It’s worshipping the paint brush rather than the process and act of painting. We miss the art of our own productivity when the tool overshadows the treasure.

As an artist, you have many brushes to choose from. You’re looking for a brush that feels best in your hand. You want a brush that doesn’t distract you from your art but partners with you to create the many things you see in your mind to create. Finding a brush like this may take some experimenting, but when you understand that the role of the brush is to bring life to your vision, it’s easier to find the right brush.

Planners are the same way. You want a productivity journal that supports you in the creation of your vision, not one that bogs you down or steals your energy.

Let’s dive into the 10 best productivity planners and journals to help you get more done in less time.

1. The One Thing Planner

The NY Times best selling book, The One Thing, just released their new planner. If you loved this book, you’ll love this planner.

As the founder of the world’s largest real estate company Keller Williams Realty, Gary Keller, has mastered the art of focus. The One Thing planner has its roots in industry changing productivity. If you’re out to put a dent in the universe, this may be the planner for you.

Get the planner here!

2. The Full Life Planner

The Full Life Planner is Lifehacks’ ultimate planning system to get results across all your core life aspects including work, health and relationships. This smart planner is 15 years of Lifehack’s best practices and proven success formulas by top performers.

With the Full Life Planner, you can align your actions to long term milestones every day, week, and month consistently. This will help you to get more done and achieve your goals.

Get the planner here!

3. The Freedom Journal

Creator of one of the most prolific podcasts ever, Entrepreneur on Fire, John Lee Dumas released his productivity journal in 2016. This hard-cover journal focuses on accomplishing SMART goals in 100 days.

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From their site:

“The Freedom Journal is an accountability partner that won’t let you fail. John Lee Dumas has interviewed over 2000 successful Entrepreneurs and has created a unique step-by-step process that will guide you in SETTING and ACCOMPLISHING your #1 goal in 100 days.”

Get the planner here!

4. Full Focus Planner

Michael Hyatt, author of Platform and host of the podcast “This is Your Life”, also has his own planner called the Full Focus Planner.

From the site:

“Built for a 90-day achievement cycle, the Full Focus Planner® gives you a quarter of a year’s content so you aren’t overwhelmed by planning (and tracking) 12 months at a time.”

This productivity planner includes a place for annual goals, a monthly calendar, quarterly planning, the ideal week, daily pages, a place for rituals, weekly preview and quarterly previews. It also comes with a Quickstart lessons to help you master the use of the planner.

Get the planner here!

5. Passion Planner

They call themselves the #pashfam and think of their planner as a “paper life coach”. Their formats include dated, academic and undated in hardbound journals with assorted colors. With over 600,000 users they have a track record for effective planners.

From the site:

“An appointment calendar, goal setting guide, journal, sketchbook, gratitude log & personal and work to-do lists all in one notebook.”

They have a get-one give-one program. For every Passion Planner that is bought they will donate one to a student or someone in need.

They also provide free PDF downloads of their planners. This is a great way to test drive if their planner is right for you.

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Get the planner here!

6. Desire Map Planners

If you’re looking for a more spiritually oriented planner, Danielle LaPorte, author of The Desire Map, created the Desire Map Planners. With Daily planners, Weekly planners and Undated planners you can find the right fit for you.

Behind this planner is the Desire Map Planner Program including 3 workbooks that not only support you in using the planners but guide you in your thought process about your life and intentions you’re using the planner to help you fulfill.

Get the planner here!

7. Franklin Covey Planners

The grandfather of all planners, Franklin Covey, has the most options when it comes to layouts, binders, and accessories. With over 30 years in the productivity planner business, they not only provide a ton of planner layouts, they also have been teaching productivity and planning from the beginning.

From the site:

“Achieve what matters most with innovative, high quality planners and binders tailored to your personal style. Our paper planning system guides you to identify values, create successful habits, and track and achieve your goals.”

Get the planner here!

8. Productivity Planner

From the makers of the best selling journal backed by Tim Ferriss, “The Five Minute Journal”, comes the Productivity Planner.

Combining the Ivy Lee method which made Charles Schwab millions with the Pomodoro Technique to stay focused in the moment, the Productivity Planner is both intelligent and effective.

It allows for six months of planning, 5-day daily pages, weekly planning and weekly review, a prioritized task list, Pomodoro time tracking, and extra space for notes.

From the site:

“Do you often find yourself busy, while more important tasks get procrastinated on? The Productivity Planner helps you prioritize and accomplish the vital few tasks that make your day satisfying. Quality over quantity. Combined with the Pomodoro Technique to help you avoid distractions, the Productivity Planner assists you to get better work done in less time.”

Get the planner here!

9. Self Journal

Endorsed by Daymond John of Shark Tank, the Self Journal takes a 13 week approach and combines Monthly, Weekly and Daily planning to help you stay focused on the things that really matter.

Self Journal includes additional tools to help you produce with their Weekly Action Pad, Project Action Pad, the Sidekick pocket journal to capture your ideas on the go and their SmartMarks bookmarks that act as a notepad while you’re reading.

Get the planner here!

10. Google Calendar

You may already use Google Calendar for appointments, but with a couple tweaks you can use it as a productivity planner.

Productivity assumes we have time to do the work we intend to do. So blocking time on your Google Calendar and designating it as “busy” will prevent others from filling up those spaces on your calendar. Actually using those blocks of time as you intended is up to you.

If you use a booking tool like Schedule Once or Calendly, you can integrate it with your Google Calendar. For maximum productivity and rhythm, I recommend creating a consistent “available” block of time each day for these kinds of appointments.

Google Calendar is free, web based and to the point. If you’re a bottom line person and easily hold your priorities in your head, this may be a good solution for you.

Get the planner here!

Bonus Advice: Integrate the 4 Building Blocks of Productivity

Just as important to productivity planners as the tool are the principles that we create inside of. There are 4 building blocks of productivity, that when embraced, accelerate your energy and results.

The four building blocks of productivity are desire, strategy, focus and rhythm. When you get these right, having a productivity planner or journal provides the structure to keep you on track.

Block #1: Desire

Somehow in the pursuit of all our goals, we accumulate ideas and To-Do’s we’re not actually passionate about and don’t really want to pursue. They sneak their way in and steal our focus from the things that really matter.

Underneath powerful productivity is desire. Not many little desires, but the overarching mother of desires. The desire you feel in your gut, the desire that comes from your soul, not your logic, is what you need to tap into if you want to level up your productivity.

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A productivity planner is just a distraction if you’re not clear on what it’s all for. With desire, however, your productivity planner provides the guide rails to accomplish your intentions.

Block #2: Strategy

Once you’re clear on your overarching desire, you need to organize your steps to get there. Let’s call this “strategy”. Strategy is like assembling a jigsaw puzzle. You must first turn over all the pieces to see patterns, colors, connections and find borders.

In business and life, we often start trying to put our “puzzle” together without turning over all the pieces. We put many items on our To-Do lists and clog our planners with things that aren’t important to the bigger picture of our puzzle.

Strategy is about taking the time to brain dump all the things in your head related to your goal and then looking for patterns and priorities. As you turn over these puzzle pieces, you’ll begin to see the more important tasks that take care of the less important tasks or make the less important tasks irrelevant.

In the best selling book, The One Thing, the focusing question they teach is:

“What’s the One thing I can do, such that by doing it, everything else is easier or unnecessary?”

This is the heart of strategy and organizing what hits your planner and what doesn’t.

Block #3: Focus

With your priorities identified, now you can focus on the One Thing that makes everything else easier or unnecessary. This is where your productivity planners and journals help you hold the line.

Because you’ve already turned over the puzzle pieces, you aren’t distracted by new shiny objects. If new ideas come along, and they will, you will better see how and where they fit in the big picture of your desire and strategy, allowing you to go back and focus on your One Thing.

Block #4: Rhythm

The final building block of productivity is rhythm. There is a rhythm in life and work that works best for you. When you find this rhythm, time stands still, productivity is easy and your experience of work is joyful.

Some call this flow. As you hone your self-awareness about your ideal rhythm you will find yourself riding flow more often and owning your productivity.

Without these four building blocks of productivity, you’re like a painter with a paintbrush and no idea how to use it to create what’s in your heart to create. But harness these four building blocks and find yourself getting more done in less time.

The Bottom Line

Your life is your art. Everyday you have a chance to create something amazing. By understanding and using the four building blocks of productivity, you will set yourself up for success no matter which planner, or “paintbrush”, you choose to use.

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As you experiment with different planners you will narrow which one is best for you and accelerate your path to putting a dent in the universe.

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Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

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