No matter the size of a business, the meetings needed to ensure smooth day-to-day operations and support growth initiatives may become problematic if they take up too much time. Here are eight ways business leaders can take back control when business meetings have taken over their work lives.
According to Harris poll data published in The Atlantic.com, time spent in meetings takes up to 40 percent of the average worker’s day. In the study cited, six out of in 10 participants identified business meetings as the biggest time-waster of all and one in five said that having more uninterrupted blocks of work time would be “the one thing” that could make them more productive at work.
Another Atlassian.com infographic titled, “Time Wasting at Work” points out that the average worker attends more than 60 meetings a month, and notes that half of those attending view this as wasted time. Nine of out 10 admit that they spent time day-dreaming during these meetings and four out of 10 even said that they actually slept, giving proof to the idea that re-thinking the way meetings are held – and even how they are scheduled – can contribute to workplace productivity and keep business leaders in control of meetings, instead of the other way around.
8 Business Meeting Scheduling Tips that Will Help You Make the Most of Your Workday
- Schedule Meetings Back to Back
Scheduling meetings back to back instead of throughout the workday can help you create blocks of time that can be dedicated to uninterrupted work. Scheduling meetings back to back can have the added benefit of reducing time spent in meetings since beginning and ending times are more likely to be upheld.
- Block Out Working Time and Ask Questions
Blocking out time as “busy” on your own calendar can help protect blocks of work time you need to stay on track. Likewise, respond in a timely manner to any incoming scheduling requests so that your real availability is known. Don’t be afraid to ask questions when you are invited to a meeting to determine whether you really need to attend.
- Set Aside Non-Meeting Days
Likewise, limiting the number of days when meetings can be held at all can ensure that you have uninterrupted blocks of time devoted to putting plans into action.
- Limit Meetings to Given Blocks of Time
If morning meetings become disruptive to productivity, consider putting a ban on meetings during the first two or three hours of the workday. Conversely, if meeting productivity suffers with day-dreaming or sleepy participants, limiting meeting times to the first few hours of the workday and freeing up the remainder for productive worktime could be the right answer.
- Use the “Optional” Field Wisely
Allowing non-essential meeting invitees to opt-out can contribute to overall workplace productivity; likewise, if you are an “optional” attendee, take advantage of your status to take back more work time by skipping or excusing yourself when your attendance is not needed.
- Put an Expiration Date on Standing Meetings
Before a standing meeting is added to workers’ business calendars, create a process for evaluating whether a meeting needs to actually become a standing meeting in the first place; and if it does, assign an expiration or reevaluation date where its value will be determined on a periodic basis. This can help ensure that standing meetings are suspended appropriately instead of self-perpetuating.
- Attend Virtually
The physical presence of all attendees may not be needed at a given meeting. Limit workday intrusion by providing for attendees (especially non-essential attendees) to sit in via conference call or tap them for input by email or text when their contribution is needed.
- Don’t Hold a Meeting at All
As a business grows and its workplace becomes busier, it becomes more and more critical for business leaders to limit meetings to those that are truly necessary. Before adding another meeting to the schedule, determine if it’s really needed or whether a conference call or group email could accomplish what’s needed.
Time is money, and that applies to time spent in business meetings, too. The Atlassian estimates that the salary cost of time wasted in business meetings in the U.S. equates to $37 billion. The cost to your business might seem negligible; however, if it’s true that only about 35 percent of workers’ time is spent productively, the real cost of all this time spent in meetings could be significantly impacting productivity and profits. Take charge of the way meetings are scheduled in your workplace so that out-of-control meeting time becomes a thing of the past.
What about you? Have you ever fallen asleep in a meeting or caught one of your co-workers nodding off? Tweet your story to us at @KabbageInc or leave it in the comment section below.