On this blog I talk a lot about (large) events, how they’re designed, facilitated, useful, successful, impactful… or not. There is a related, mundane, day-to-day topic: the case of everyday meetings. We spend sometimes so much time that we might want to think about how to make them as useful.
And in this post, I just want to stop and consider how to plan your time in these day-to-day meetings in the best possible way, from a KMer perspective (also because good KMers are innovation conveners – and good practice-shapers).
So here are some principles to get your started in planning your (attendance at) meetings:
Long preparation, short war so… If you’re not prepared, you’re likely going to be wasting your time and others’. And as I keep referring to meeting cost calculators (such as Meeting Ticker) everyone’s time amounts to quite a lot of money in the end.
Make sure there’s an agenda
If the agenda really concerns you there is a point in attending and contributing (unless you’re forced to attend). If there isn’t one, you’re wasting your time again.
Say no to meetings
If you’re not prepared, or if others aren’t, or if there’s no clear objective, the meeting is not worth it. Be ruthless and put a stop to this nonsense! Don’t encourage more fluffy and useless meetings. You can follow these simple rules to eliminate such useless meetings.
Plan your meetings in ‘bundles’…
Rather than have a meeting every other hour, how about clustering your meetings one after another so that you have some specific ‘meeting times’ and you can also enjoy some ‘non-meeting times’ to get other important things done?
…And at otherwise unproductive times (for me right after lunch)
Maybe you can use time when you’re least effective for your personal work to have meetings, it’s a great way to be productive at all times. For me that’s right after lunch. First thing after lunch. On the contrary, having a meeting at the middle of the morning or the afternoon (simply because you don’t have anything planned then) sounds -to me- like a missed opportunity to avoid seeing your productive time torn apart by islands of activities.
Now then, when you’re in the meetings / discussions…
When it’s over, it’s over!
This simple OST principle applies for day to day meetings too. Why use the time you planned just because you have it if you’re done or you’ve achieved your objectives? Stop when you’re done. Claim your freedom again :) Or spend it happily with others.
One thing leads to another – of balancing objectives and energy and keeping the process in sight
Sometimes a meeting unravels a whole set of issues that were unexpected and are actually really important to discuss. Then either there is an option to spend just a bit more time on the issue(s) and significantly negotiate its resolution, or a commitment to discuss this must be made at a later time. Just don’t let things hanging, which leads me to my penultimate point for today…
Summarise concrete follow up
Unless this was a blue sky brainstorming session, you should make sure there is a clear harvest of: insights, recommendations, decisions… so that the meeting – however productive it was while it happened – does not lead to a completely unproductive standstill afterwards. This is about managing your time in the longer run.
Use your time differently in meetings
You may want to try walking meetings, meetings in a totally different environment, online meetings where you’re learning to use a new technology (plan the time well on this one ;), meetings with a different dynamic… The point is to also think ‘differently’ about your time in meetings… so feel free to add your own meeting time tips here! But hopefully with all of this, you can finally say ‘good bye’ to acute meetingitis…
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