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Beating the Meeting Monster

Beating the Meeting Monster
    From Guoman Hotels in London on flickr

    Do you spend too much time in meetings?  If so, you are in good company.  One of the  most common complaints of office workers is that their productivity is hampered by too many unproductive meetings.  Ineffective meetings lead to frustration.  They waste the time of the participants and they undermine the effectiveness of the whole organization.

    Here are some ways to tackle this problem.

    1.  Fewer attendees.

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    The meeting should be restricted to those whose presence is essential to review the issue and to make the decisions.  People who want to be ‘kept in the picture’ should receive a summary email from the meeting chair.  If you are invited to a meeting which you know is not really relevant for you or will be poorly run then offer your apologies and ask for a summary.  You will rarely regret missing such a meeting.

    2.  Create a Focus and Agenda.

    The purpose of the meeting and any required information or preparatory work should be made clear to all delegates well in advance.  In addition to the start time there should be a planned finish time.  The chair of the meeting should keep to the agenda and quickly curtail diversions and irrelevancies.  If you are invited to a meeting with no agenda then politely reply asking for clarification on the timings and purpose of the meeting.

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    3.  Training.

    Anyone who chairs a meeting should have had some basic training on running meetings.  This would include keeping to time, keeping focussed, reaching decisions, agreeing actions and handling conflicts.  Does your HR department offer such a training course?  If so go on the course and encourage others to do the same.

    4.  Use a Discipline.

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    There are various formal methods for managing meetings.  I like de Bono’s Six Hats.  They can help you to focus on the key activities of productive discussion and speedy decision making.  This method is particularly good for contentious issues because it takes the conflict out of the meeting and forces everyone to consider all the points of view.   Why not try this approach at the next meeting you chair?

    5.  Ask for Feedback.

    Every meeting should be quickly appraised.  At the end of the meeting the chair asks, ‘How could we have run this meeting better?’  People can respond directly or anonymously.  Either way you will have constructive suggestions for how to make meetings shorter and better.

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    6.  No Meetings in the Mornings.

    Author Josh Kaufman recommends that you should allow meetings only in afternoons thus allowing you to block out mornings for essential work that only you can do.  He claims that this significantly improves productivity and I am inclined to believe him.

    People spend a great deal of time in meetings yet rarely consider how to run them better.  Try these ideas and get the meetings monster under control in your business.

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    Paul Sloane

    Professional Keynote Speaker, Author, Innovation Expert

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    Last Updated on January 21, 2020

    5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

    5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

    In the journey of growth, there are times when we grow and excel. We are endlessly driven and hyped up, motivated to get our goals.

    Then there are times when we stagnate. We feel uninspired and unmotivated. We keep procrastinating on our plans. More often than not, we get out of a rut only to get back into another one.

    How do you know if you are stagnating? Here are some tell-tale signs:

    • If you have been experiencing chronic procrastination on your goals
    • If you don’t ever feel like doing anything
    • If you keep turning to sleep, eating, games, mindless activities and entertainment for comfort
    • If you know you should be doing something, but yet you keep avoiding it
    • If you have not achieved anything new or significant now relative to 1 month, 2 months or 3 months ago
    • If you have a deep sense of feeling that you are living under your potential

    When we face stagnation in life, it’s a sign of deeper issues. Stagnancy in life, just like procrastination, is a symptom of a problem. It’s easy to beat ourselves over it, but this approach is not going to help.

    Here, I will share 5 steps to help you move out of this stagnation. They won’t magically transform your life in 1 night (such changes are never permanent because the foundations are not built), but they will help you get the momentum going and help you get back on track.

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    1. Realize You’re Not Alone

    Everyone stagnates at some point or another. You are not alone in this and more importantly, it’s normal. In fact, it’s amazing how many of my clients actually face the same predicament, even though all of them come from different walks of life, are of different ages, and have never crossed paths.

    Realizing you are not alone in this will make it much easier to deal with this period. By trying to “fight it”, you’re only fighting yourself. Accept this situation, acknowledge it, and tell yourself it’s okay. That way, you can then focus on the constructive steps that will really help you.

    2. Find What Inspires You

    Stagnation comes because there isn’t anything that excites you enough to take action. If you don’t have a habit of setting goals, and instead just leave yourself to daily mundanes, it’s not surprising you are experiencing stagnation.

    What do you want to do if there are no limitations? If you can have whatever you want, what will it be? The answers to these questions will provide the fuel that will drive you forward.

    On the other hand, even if you are an experienced goal setter, there are times when the goals you set in the past lose their appeal now. It’s normal and it happens to me too. Sometimes we lose touch with our goals, since we are in a different emotional state compared to when we first set them. Sometimes our priorities change and we no longer want to work on those goals anymore. However, we don’t consciously realize this, and what happens is we procrastinate on our goals until it compounds into a serious problem.

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    If that’s the case for you, it’s time to relook into your goals. There’s no point in pursuing goals that no longer inspire you. Trash away your old goals (or just put them aside) and ask yourself what you really want now. Then go for them.

    3. Give Yourself a Break

    When’s the last time you took a real break for yourself? 3 months? 6 months? 1 year? Never? Perhaps it’s time to take a time-out. Prolonged working can cause someone to become disillusioned as they lose sight of who they are and what they want.

    Go take some extended leave from work. A few days at bare minimum; a few weeks or months will be great. Some of my ex-colleagues have quit their jobs and took months out to do some self-reflection. Of course, some of us might not have that luxury, so we can stick to a few weeks of leave.

    Go on a trip elsewhere and get away from your work and your life. Use this chance to get a renewed perspective of life. Think about your life purpose, what you want and what you want to create for your life in the future.

    These are big questions that require deep thinking over them. It’s not about finding the answers at one go, but about taking the first step to finding the answers.

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    4. Shake up Your Routines

    Being in the same environment, doing the same things over and over again and meeting the same people can make us stagnant. This is especially if the people you spend the most time with are stagnant themselves.

    Change things around. Start with simple things, like taking a different route to work and eating something different for breakfast. Have your lunch with different colleagues, colleagues you never talked much with. Work in a different cubicle if your work has free and easy seating. Do something different than your usual for weekday evenings and weekends. Cultivate different habits, like exercising every day, listening to a new series of podcasts every morning to work, reading a book, etc (here’re 6 Proven Ways To Make New Habits Stick). The different contexts will give you different stimulus, which will trigger off different thoughts and actions in you.

    When I’m in a state of stagnancy, I’ll get a sense of what’s making me stagnate. Sometimes it’s the environment I’m in, sometimes it’s the people I’ve been hanging out with, sometimes it’s my lifestyle. Most of the times it’s a combination of all these. Changing them up helps to stir myself out of the stagnant mode.

    5. Start with a Small Step

    Stagnation also comes from being frozen in fear. Maybe you do want this certain goal, but you aren’t taking action. Are you overwhelmed by the amount of work needed? Are you afraid you will make mistakes? Is the perfectionist in you taking over and paralyzing you?

    Let go of the belief that it has to be perfect. Such a belief is a bane, not a boon. It’s precisely from being open to mistakes and errors that you move forward.

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    Break down what’s before you into very very small steps, then take those small steps, a little step at a time. I had a client who had been stagnating for a long period because he was afraid of failing. He didn’t want to make another move where he would make a mistake. However, not wanting to make a mistake has led him to do absolutely nothing for 2-3 years.

    On the other hand, by doing just something, you would already be making progress, whether it’s a mistake or not. Even if you make a supposed “mistake”,  you get feedback to do things differently in the next step. That’s something you would never have known if you never made a move.

    More to Help You Get Unstuck

    Featured photo credit: Anubhav Saxena via unsplash.com

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