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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 October 9, 2018

    How to Write a Personal Mission Statement to Ensure Peak Productivity

    How to Write a Personal Mission Statement to Ensure Peak Productivity

    Most of you made personal, one sentence resolutions like “I want to lose weight” or “I vow to go back to school.” It is a tradition to start the New Year with things you want to achieve, but under the influence resolutions are often unrealistic.

    If you’re wondering when will be a good time to write a mission statement, NOW is the time to take a personal inventory to make this year your most productive year ever. You may be asking yourself, “How am I going to do that?” You, my friends, are going to write personal mission statements.

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    A large number of corporations use mission statements to define the purpose of the company’s existence. Sony wants to “become the company most known for changing the worldwide poor-quality image of Japanese products” and 3M wants “to solve unsolved problems innovatively”. A personal mission statement is different than a corporate mission statement, but the fundamentals are the same.

    So why do you need one? A personal statement will help you identify your core values and beliefs in one fluid tapestry of content that you can read anytime and anywhere to stay on task toward success.

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    For example, Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire came to the realization that he had lost track of what was important to him. After writing a personal mission statement, we saw him start his own business and he got the girl, Renee Zelleweger. Not bad, wouldn’t you say? A personal mission statement will make sure that, through all the texting, emailing and constant bombardment of on-the-go activity, you won’t lose sight of what is most important to you.

    Mission statements can be simple and concise while others are longer and filled with detail. The length of your personal mission statement will not be determined until you follow this simple equation to create your motivational springboard for 2008.

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    To begin your internal cleansing, you will need to jot down the required information in the following five steps:

    1. What are your values? Values steer your actions and determine where you spend time, energy, and most importantly, money. Be specific and unique to yourself. Too much generalization will not be as effective. It is called a “personal” mission statement for a reason.
    2. What are three important goals you hope to achieve this year? Keep your list of important goals small and give them a date. It is better to focus on the horizon and not the stars. Realistic goals are keys to ultimate success.
    3. What image do you hope to project to yourself? How you see yourself is how the world will view you. Think about this carefully. Your image should encompass what you look like and feel after you have achieved your goals.
    4. Write down action statements from each value describing how you will use those values to achieve your three goals. Start with “I will…”
    5. Rewrite your statement to include only your action statements. Make portable copies for your wallet, car or office.

    If you followed the steps above, congratulations! You have just written your first personal mission statement. Your personal statement will change over the years as your goals change. You can have more than one statement for the different compartments of your life such as your career, family, marriage, etc.

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    Writing a personal mission statement is an effective method to ensure your productivity is at its peak. It is an ideal tradition to start so that when next year rolls around, the outdated practice of resolutions will be something you permanently left in the past.

    Featured photo credit: Álvaro Serrano via unsplash.com

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