Your days are full, and it can be hard to get everything on your list done. You were finally making progress on a task when your focus is disrupted yet again with a meeting reminder. You don’t know how you’ll finish what you need to do today, and it’s probably going to be yet another waste of time. Is this just the way things are, or is there a better way?
According to The HR Digest, professionals lose an average of 31 hours a month on meetings–which adds up to approximately four workdays, or a total of two months per year. That’s a lot of disruption, particularly if those meetings aren’t actually yielding much. The problem isn’t just an overabundance of meetings; it’s that so many of them turn out to be bad meetings. But you don’t have to settle for bad meetings that disrupt your work and kill productivity. Great meetings are possible with a little bit of forethought. Let’s look at one of the first steps in that direction: determining the necessity and nature of a meeting.
Here are five filtering questions you can use to coordinate essential meetings:
Is this meeting necessary? There’s a well-known piece of literary advice for writers: “kill your darlings.” That is, don’t get too attached to the storyline, especially if it doesn’t serve the bigger picture. The same is true for meetings. It’s too easy to get caught up in a series of meetings that don’t matter. Keep the high-leverage ones that support important goals. Eliminate the rest, and your team will thank you.
Are you sure you’re necessary? Too often, we blindly accept the never-ending barrage of meeting invites. It’s natural to think our presence in a meeting is always necessary, especially if we were invited. But that’s not always true. Guard your schedule, and only say yes when you truly need to be there.
Who else should be involved? If you’re organizing a meeting, think through who absolutely needs to attend. Remember, smaller groups can align more quickly to drive a decision. Relevant information can be shared with the masses later through an email or project-management update.
What type of meeting do you want? Consider ahead of time the type of meeting that will help you accomplish your goals. Establishing this early on will keep the purpose clear and the conversation from meandering, so your time will be productive.
What’s the right format? Historically, in-person meetings have been the norm across businesses. But nowadays, we’re all meeting virtually in some capacity, and in-person meetings are no longer the default. It takes intentional thought to determine what’s best for your team, and what format will work best for what you’re trying to achieve. If that’s in-person, great. Otherwise, your preferred video-conferencing app works great too.
Take control of your meeting habits. Routinely ask yourself, Is this meeting necessary? If not, be decisive and eliminate the meetings that don’t matter or that inhibit your productivity. Make the best use of your team’s time and resources by focusing on the high-leverage stuff, and you’ll start seeing less frustration and better results.
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