It’s a business proverb we hear time and time again: Time is money. This adage couldn’t be truer when it comes to our work meetings. When we waste time in meetings, money goes down the drain not only in labor costs during the meeting itself but labor costs and time it takes for employees to settle back into their usual workflow and emotionally recover from particularly frustrating or long meetings.
Meetings and the Numbers
Most executives spend 22 years of their lives sitting in workplace meetings, and roughly a third of these meetings are considered unproductive and a waste of time. Meaning, over 7 years of your life could be lost due to poorly run meetings! What makes these meetings so wasteful?
The Culprit of Wasteful Meetings
Three words: Poor. Time. Management.
Yup, poor time management is a leading cause of meetings being perceived as unproductive and inefficient. Running over on agenda items, and not having enough time to cover the latter items on agendas can frustrate attendees and kill a meeting's momentum. Losing track of time during meetings often causes them to run over, creating even more of a time suck for meeting attendees and leaders who operate on strict schedules. Some of the negative effects of poor time management include rushing to complete tasks or making hasty decisions, low productivity, harming your professional reputation, dissatisfaction, and general frustration. This can cause even the once-happiest employees' morale to take a nosedive which, in worst-case scenarios, lead to costly turnover. So what can be done about our meeting time management problem?
3 Ways to Avoid Wasting Time in Meetings
To avoid these pitfalls, here are three evidence-based tips on time management from Dr. Steven Rogelberg’s book, The Surprising Science of Meetings:
- Keep track of time and pace the meeting effectively, keeping in mind the big picture of and goals of the agenda.
- Don't rush through an important issue that truly needs to be discussed. Be able to recognize if an issue raised would be best addressed at a later meeting. Meaning, know when to table an item for another time, keeping only the most pressing and relevant topics included in your meeting. Some things can be pushed to next week’s meeting, we promise!
- Keep the conversation flowing (e.g., recognizing a tangent and pulling it back into what needs to be discussed). Although your coworker's latest skydiving expedition may be fascinating, it's hardly going to get you closer to your business goals. Stay on track.
More Tips for Effective Meeting Time Management
There’s an abundance of research out there on how to best spend time in your meetings, whether you are the meeting admin or an attendee. Here are some of the most basic things you can do (and pitfalls to avoid) so you don’t waste those 7 years of your life in wasteful meetings:
- If you’re the meeting admin, always have an agenda that you share with your team beforehand. If applicable, invite meeting attendees to suggest items and collaborate on the agenda in advance.
- Allot specific time amounts to each agenda item, and stick to that time. Decisions has a great Time Tracker tool available to help you stay on track.
- Ensure each meeting has a purpose or goal.
- Assign presenters to agenda items ahead of time so relevant speakers are prepped, listened to, and not interrupted when speaking on their specialized topic.
- Establish what kind of meeting it will be beforehand: leadership, strategy, board meeting, update, etc.
- Leave each meeting with actionable steps, clear decisions, and specific tasks assigned to specific team members.
- Consider using meeting management software, like Decisions for Microsoft Teams, Outlook, and O365 to help you manage your meetings.
And with Decisions, we've got just the tools to help you stop the wasteful meeting madness!
With Decisions newest feature, not only can you win some of your time back from unproductive meetings, but your meetings will run more smoothly than ever.
Manage Your Meeting Better with Decisions NEW Time Tracker Alert
And listen, we've all been in those meetings - the ones that run long, leaving you and your team feeling frustrated and disengaged. The ones where time is managed poorly and contributes to those 7 wasted years of your life. It's one of the biggest meeting faux pas out there - and can happen even more in virtual meetings!
This is why Decisions just added its Time Tracker Alert feature to the Decisions suite.
With the Decisions Time Tracker Alert, your whole team will see when one minute is remaining for each agenda item, so no one is tasked with manually managing and keeping the meeting on time.
Because let's face it - no one wants to cut off your friendly but long-winded coworker. That's what the Decisions Time Tracker Alert is for. It automates that "cut-off awkwardness" so your meetings and your days can move along - saving headaches and getting everyone back to their workflow (and years back to their lives)!
Remember, time is money. Time is your life. And good time management can start with simple things, like well-managed meetings
The Time Tracker Alert is available NOW when you sign up for a free trial of Decisions or talk to your sales rep to implement this feature! It’s available now - get it here!
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