Imagine yourself going in all those every-day meetings. It’s supposed to start at 1 PM and somewhere around 1:10 everyone is finally in. Someone is trying to make the projector work. The presenter is searching through her files for the presentation. Everyone else is checking their email, social media or just chatting on their phone. The meeting is finally starting with a quick intro from the presenter. Half of the audience is still typing frenetically on their phone or laptop. Sounds familiar? Probably that’s because inefficient meetings are far more popular than we’d like to think. But there’s a cure for this epidemic of bad meetings and I’m here to share some solutions with you.
First, let’s acknowledge that we let our co-workers steal from us. I’m not talking about a pencil, or some milk from the fridge. I’m referring to something far more valuable: our time. When we accept the invitation to participate in meetings that turn out to be completely unproductive, we deliberately let people steal our precious time.
Of course, well-organized, purpose-driven meetings can lead to extremely positive results, but, unfortunately, in most situations that’s not the case. Our workday implies that we communicate about what we’re doing – the status of a project, the next steps to take, and so on. We do that by filling out reports, logging in data into our project management systems and during meetings.
The information security manager, David Grady, claims we’re facing a major global epidemic and he calls this new “illness” MAS: Mindless Accept Syndrome. Obviously, it’s a joke, but, if you think about it, he’s not that far from the truth. We have the tendency to simply say “Yes” to any meeting we’re invited to without realizing that in this way we allow others to steal time from us.
You have the power
The trouble with unproductive meetings is that we feel powerless. We grew up to believe we somehow have to attend every one of them. But that’s not true at all.
The cure is right here in our hands. We have the power to change our own approach towards meetings and with that we might even change our co-workers’ attitude. In case you haven’t heard, even the smallest improvement in our daily routine can lead us to outstanding results.
Recommended reading: How 1% Improvements Can Make A Ton Of Difference
Here are 3 easy tricks that you can start using right now to escape from bad meetings.
1. Transform some of the meetings into written chats
“I survived another meeting that should have been an email.”
I’m sure you’ve heard that before. Although the author of this quote is still unknown, the saying itself managed to become an internet sensation. That’s because it’s easy to relate to it: the average executive spends at least 40% of their time in meetings, and a lot of that time doesn’t produce any results. Any announcement or update can be transferred online. Any conversation related to a project can be held in a group chat.
Emails are a great way to communicate, but they’re not instant. Fortunately, we live in an era when we have far better technology to communicate. Instant communication and collaboration apps such as Hubgets are great tools that you can use on a daily basis to report status on projects or get feedback on your work. They can help both you and your team save an enormous amount of time, by cutting down the hours wasted on meetings.
Think about the meetings you have scheduled in the near future. Can any one of them become a group conversation? If yes, then why not give Hubgets a try? It’s easier than ever to just add your team members to the app and organize a group Topic. You can share screens, files of all types and sizes, and collaborate on projects anyway you want: via chat, voice or video.
2. Just say “No” to meetings in the first place
Despite the enormous amount of information on how to successfully run a meeting, organizations still find themselves wasting valuable time because, truth be told, great meetings take a lot of work and resources. You have to properly prepare the agenda and be well-trained in the art of debate; during the meeting, someone has to facilitate the group conversation so that everyone can participate, and a decision is made in one hour or less. Unfortunately, only a handful of companies have the discipline and the necessary resources to organize their meetings this way.
For the rest of them, the answer to the problem may be this: just say “no” to meetings!
Make a little experiment out of analyzing your schedule. If your calendar is full of meetings about updates or sharing information, cancel them. Although it may sound like a radical solution, this may save you and your organization a lot of valuable time without any additional cost or effort.
Remember you don’t have to say “Yes” to meetings just because someone thought about organizing one. Go back to trick no.1 and try suggesting a group chat instead, whenever that’s possible.
3. Schedule a “fake meeting” in your calendar
Most of us are used to organizing our task list, but don’t have the habit of blocking time to take care of our own tasks. Think about it. If someone looks at your calendar right now, do they see a lot of “free time” between meetings? If that’s the case, they might feel like there is room to organize another meeting 😛 Can you blame them? Your schedule says that you’re available.
Try adding the time you need to fulfill a task as a “meeting” in your calendar. You can even book a small conference room (if your company has enough of them) so you can get some quiet time for yourself. You’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish just by avoiding unwanted interruptions.
These are my top 3 solutions for a bad-meetings-free-life. I’m sure there are other (and even better) quick fixes to make the modern workday more productive. Have you tried any of the above? Or do you use other tricks to get away from unproductive meetings? Share them with us in the comments below.