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Published on August 26, 2019

How to Kill Endless Meetings and Stay Productive

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

More by this author

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.

How to Kill Endless Meetings and Stay Productive How to Create an Action Plan and Achieve Your Personal Goals

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Last Updated on September 18, 2019

15 Best Organizing Tips For Office Organization and Getting More Done

15 Best Organizing Tips For Office Organization and Getting More Done

You may think that you don’t have time for office organization, but if you really knew how much time that disorganization cost you, you’d reconsider.

Rearranging and moving piles occasionally doesn’t count. Neither does clearing off your desk, if you swipe the mess into a bin, or a desk drawer.

A relatively neat and orderly office space clears the way for higher productivity and less wasted time.

Organizing your office doesn’t have to take days, it can be done a little at a time. In fact, maintaining an organized office is much more effective if you treat it like an on-going project, instead of a massive assault.

So, if you’re ready to get started, the following organizing tips will help you transform your office into an efficient workspace.

1. Purge Your Office

De-clutter, empty, shred, get rid of everything that you don’t need or want. Look around. What haven’t you used in a while?

Take one area at a time. If it doesn’t work, send it out for repair or toss it. If you haven’t used it in months and can’t think of when you’ll actually need it, out it goes. This goes for furniture, equipment, supplies, etc.

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Don’t forget about knick-knacks, plants (real or artificial), and decorations – if they’re covered with dust and make your office look shabby, they’re fair game.

2. Gather and Redistribute

Gather up every item that isn’t where it belongs and put it where it does.

3. Establish Work “Zones”

Decide what type of activity happens in each area of your office. You’ll probably have a main workspace (most likely your desk,) a reference area (filing cabinet, shelves, binders,) and a supply area (closet, shelves or drawers.)

Place the appropriate equipment and supplies are located in the proper area as much as possible.

4. Close Proximity

Position the equipment and supplies that you use most within reach. Things that you rarely use can be stored or put away.

5. Get a Good Labeler

Choose a label maker that’s simple to use. Take the time to label shelves, bins, baskets drawers. Not only will it remind you where things go, but it will also help others who may have a need to find, use, or put away anything in your workspace.

6. Revise Your Filing System

As we move fully into the digital age, the need to store paper files has decreased.

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What can your store digitally? Are you duplicating files? You may be able to eliminate some of the files and folders you’ve used in the past. If you’re storing files on your computer, make sure you are doing regular back-ups.

Here’re some storage ideas for creating a smooth filing system:

  • Create a meeting folder – Put all “items to be discussed” in there along with items that need to be handed off, reports that need to be given, etc. It’ll help you be prepared for meetings and save you stress in the even that a meeting is moved up.
  • Create a WOR folder – So much of our messy papers are things that are on hold until someone else responds or acts. Corral them in a WOR (Waiting on Response) folder. Check it every few days for outstanding actions you may need to follow-up on.
  • Storage boxes – Use inexpensive storage boxes to keep archived files and get them out of your current file space.
  • Magazine boxes – Use magazine boxes or binders to store magazines and catalogs you really want to store. Please make sure you really need them for reference or research, otherwise recycle them, or give away.
  • Reading folder – Designate a file for print articles and documents you want to read that aren’t urgent.
  • Archive files – When a project is complete, put all of the materials together and file them away. Keep your “working folders” for projects in progress.
  • File weekly – Don’t let your filing pile up. Put your papers in a “To File” folder and file everything once a week.

Learn more tips on organizing your files here: How to Organize Your Files for Better Productivity

7. Clear off Your Desk

Remove everything, clean it thoroughly and put back only those items that are essential for daily use.

If you have difficulty declutter stuff, this Declutter Formula will help you throw away stuff without regretting later.

8. Organize your Desktop

Now that you’ve streamlined your desktop, it’s a good idea to organize it.

Use desktop organizers or containers to organize the items on your desk. Use trays for papers, containers for smaller items.

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Don’t forget your computer desktop! Make sure the files or images are all in organized folders. I’d recommend you clear your computer desktop everyday before you leave work.

9. Organize Your Drawers

Put items used together in the same drawer space, stamps with envelopes, sticky pads with notepads, etc.

Use drawer organizers for little items – paper clips, tacks, etc. Use a separate drawer for personal items.

10. Separate Inboxes

If you work regularly with other people, create a folder, tray, or inbox for each.

11. Clear Your Piles

Hopefully with your new organized office, you won’t create piles of paper anymore, but you still have to sort through the old ones.

Go through the pile (a little at a time if necessary) and put it in the appropriate place or dump it.

12. Sort Mails

Don’t just stick mail in a pile to be sorted or rifle through and take out the pieces you need right now. Sort it as soon as you get it – To act, To read, To file, To delegate or hand off. .

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13. Assign Discard Dates

You don’t need to keep every piece of paper indefinitely. Mark on files or documents when they can be tossed or shredded.

Some legal or financial documents must be kept for specified length of time. Make sure you know what those requirements are.

14. Filter Your Emails

Some emails are important to read, others are just not that important.

When you use the filter system to label different types of emails, you know their priority and which to reply first.

Take a look at these tips to achieve inbox zero: The Ultimate Way to get to Inbox Zero

15. Straighten Your Desk

At the end of the day, do a quick straighten, so you have a clean start the next day.

Bottom Line

Use one tip or try them all. The amount of effort you put into creating and maintaining an efficient work area will pay off in a big way.

Instead of spending time looking for things and shuffling piles, you’ll be able to spend your time…well…working and you’ll enjoy being clutter free!

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Featured photo credit: Alesia Kazantceva via unsplash.com

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