Do you have too many meetings? Scale back with these tips
Many meetings are simply a waste of time.
August 29, 2018

Every business professional knows the sinking feeling of seeing one more meeting invite pop up in their email program at the end of the day. You look at your calendar packed with meetings and wonder when you'll get the chance to eat lunch, not to mention get any actual work done.

Many employees feel like they spend their day planning for business meetings and attending them. By the end of the day, you're left with a long to-do list of projects and tasks that you try to finish in between the rest of the week's meetings. While collaboration is important, time spent in meetings with co-workers isn't always productive.

Many meetings are a waste of time. Read on to learn about ways every organisation can reduce the amount of time spent in meetings while still communicating effectively -- creating more time to focus on reaching critical business goals.

The Potential Damage of Too Many Meetings

According to one study, employees participate in up to 62 meetings per month, for an average of just over three meetings per day. Having an abundance of meetings makes it hard to reach goals or focus for extended periods of time to get work done. A single meeting can easily derail an entire afternoon.

Unproductive meetings have serious negative implications for any business environment, such as:

Decreased Workplace Productivity

Most meetings create more work. Work that can't be completed if the majority of time is spent in meetings. In fact, 73 percent of employees say they do other work during meetings.

Employee Dissatisfaction

Team members often feel overwhelmed when looking at their meeting calendar. Stress levels rise and motivation wanes, while job turnover increases.

Internal Breakdown of Trust and Autonomy

When managers schedule a meeting about every little thing or task that needs to be accomplished, employees feel micromanaged and that they aren't trusted to do their jobs.

Furthermore, there's certainly a tangible fiscal cost of having too many meetings. Unproductive meetings don't just waste time and frustrate employees. When profitable working time is eaten up by back-to-back meetings, the cost to the business is real.

For example, if an advertising agency has six employees attend a one-hour meeting and one billable hour is worth $150, that meeting is worth $900. There's a good reason to limit meeting frequency, duration and size!

3 Ways to Reduce Unnecessary Meeting Time

1. Audit Your Meeting Schedule

Analyse how much time you are spending in meetings and prioritize your meeting calendar. Determine the 'performance' of each weekly meeting you have. What purpose does the meeting accomplish? Do you have clear goals and set expectations at the conclusion of each business meeting? If not, it might be an unproductive meeting.

For example, do you really need to have a standing meeting with each of your direct reports every week? If you're having the meeting just to check in out of habit and not getting anything new done, reduce the frequency. Instead, direct reports and managers can keep one another up to date using collaborative task management tools and communicate via phone calls and messages to solve minor issues.

2. Manage Time Effectively

Once you've determined how many of your meetings are necessary, limit the time of the meeting. Only invite the team members necessary. A good rule of thumb is that if a team member rarely or never speaks during a meeting, they probably don't need to be there.

Insist team members arrive to the meeting on time or let the organiser know if they'll be late for a valid reason. Be prepared. Send participants a meeting agenda and outline, and let them know what resources and information they need to have prepared beforehand.

Start the meeting at the scheduled time and make every minute count. If you set the meeting to end at 3:00 p.m. and more time is clearly needed, you should still conclude the meeting on time. Schedule another short meeting the next day to finish up with the team members who need to participate.

3. Set Clear Behaviour Expectations

If everyone is actively engaged, meeting time can be cut back drastically. Limit distractions. Employ a rule of no cell phone use during meetings. Most one-hour long meetings can easily be cut in half. Giving 30 minutes of productive working time back to your team has a meaningful impact for your organisation's ROI.  

If there are follow-up items that need to be addressed, follow up with the people responsible. Don't schedule another meeting with the same group if you only need to communicate with one or two people. Be respectful of your coworkers' time and they will return the favor by respecting yours.

Be the Master of Your Own Calendar

If there are too many meetings being put on your calendar, don't feel pressured to say yes to every meeting. If it gets in the way of getting important work done, don't accept the meeting invite. Make sure your calendar is up-to-date and create a policy that encourages team members to check their coworkers’ availability before planning a meeting.

Most people require substantial amounts of uninterrupted time to engage in meaningful, creative work. Schedule two or three 90-minute blocks of time on your calendar and turn off your notifications. Consider putting your lunch or a few 15-minute breaks on your calendar to make sure you have time to refocus before your next meeting. You'll be amazed at how much more you get done during the day.

Reclaim Your Workday and Get Things Done

You don't need to have an excess of meetings to have a collaborative, engaged workplace. Rather than having recurring weekly meetings where little progress is recorded, aim for a norm of frequent, daily communication and collaboration.

Workplace issues and new businesses opportunities don't wait for meetings to take place. Smart companies use tools and resources to eliminate unproductive meetings and decrease time spent in necessary meetings. Modern technology has introduced a host of collaborative task and performance management tools that make communicating much more simple.

Samewave is social performance management software that allows organisations to effectively collaborate and communicate about projects, targets and tasks in a public setting. This software significantly decreases the need for conventional, lengthy workplace meetings and tracks meeting minutes, giving individual team members the ability to monitor progress and plan goals.

Samewave helps companies work smarter and faster. Our easy-to-use technology can make your life easier with automatic agendas and to-do lists, real-time updates and simple project management automation in one place. Robust reporting features encourage prompt action and make necessary team meetings more valuable.

Are you curious how Samewave can help your business improve productivity and engagement while getting rid of repetitive, ineffective meetings? Introduce Samewave at your next team meeting and explore how you can boost performance organisation-wide, for free.

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