Problem: Habitual Thinking About Time
Think about a meeting you typically schedule for your team. How long do you schedule for the meeting? For sake of discussion, let’s assume it is an hour-long meeting. Is an hour really needed, or is scheduling an hour just a habit in thinking about time in 30-60 minute increments?
We have become accustomed to increments of time that are rounded off…and most often, rounded up to greater increments of time. For example, consider human behavior with New Year’s resolutions.
What is normally considered a goal, becomes a resolution because it was set on or around January 1. Then most people stick with it for as long as they can…typically a couple weeks…then say to themselves, “I will try harder next year.”
While we are accustomed to think habitually in terms of year-long resolutions, when what is really needed are week-long or even day-long resolutions. Why wait a whole year to make adjustments to what didn’t work after a few weeks.
Shorten your time increments. Similarly, when we schedule meetings, we tend to look in 60 minute blocks of time, when what really may be needed is 45 minutes or perhaps even 20.
Solution: Plan for Less
To Meeting Organizers – Reduce meeting time by 25% or more.Before scheduling your next meeting, first be a responsible organizer and do the following:
- Ensure there are clear decision points
- Communicate to all necessary attendees in advance of meeting
- Determine how much time you think will be needed for the meeting
- Then recognize you are thinking about time in traditional ways and reduce the time by at least 25%
This is counter-intuitive, but you will be amazed at how properly prepared attendees that know the meeting time is short, will focus in on the essential decision points. Longer meeting times suggest to the participants, that there is plenty of time, so settle in and pace yourself.
To meeting participants – Plan to leave early.
For your next scheduled meeting, let the meeting organizer know that you will have to step out [25% of the meeting] early (i.e., leave 45 minutes into an hour-long meeting).
- Ask the meeting organizer to cover the key points while you are there
- Identify a colleague to get a recap for the last 15 minutes missed
- Congratulate yourself for taking intentional steps to reinvest valuable time
- Recognize this is a short-term solution, so address it at the root by sharing these tips with others
I understand this is not possible for all meetings, particularly meetings that your supervisor called. In those instances, what you can do is share the concept you read here. Let them know these methods have increased staff productivity levels in excess of 25%. What supervisor would not be a fan of that?
“Less talking, more doing!”
This really works and puts valuable time back in your day, especially when you attend or hold multiple meetings each day. The result? Spend less time talking about what you will do and more time actually doing it.
Please share your successes in employing this technique. Also, if you have a favorite way to reduce meeting times…or meetings altogether, we’d love to hear about them.
Jeff Michaels is a Sales & Marketing Executive that has worked with executives, leaders, & teams for 25 years to create repeatable success regardless of industry, economy or circumstance.