How’s your work day been so far? If you’re like the average European office worker, chances are you’ve spent approximately 60% of your day in meetings. When do you do your actual work?
Increasingly we live in a culture of ‘back to back’ meetings that fill our work day. The result is that many of us have to find time to do our work at the fringes of the day, working late, taking work home or thinking about work when you wake up during the night. Yet, many of our meetings aren’t productive. In fact, a lot of them drain our time for very little return. In a study done by Highfive it was found that:
- 9 out of 10 people daydream in meetings.
- 73% of people work on other things during meetings
- The length of time spent in meetings has gone up by 10% year on year since 2000
One of the biggest concepts we talk about in our Mumager workshops for parents and line managers, is focusing on what you can control. So how can we take back some control of our work week? A good place to start is meetings.
- Say no more often: Embrace the concept of JOMO (joy of missing out). If you don’t know why you’re needed at the meeting – decline it. Read the notes afterwards.
- 45 minute wonder: Who says meetings have to last an hour? Book them for 45mins instead. Not only will you get the same work covered, you’ll have 15 minutes to wrap up and get onto your next appointment.
- Stand up: A former Director I worked with had a tall round table in his office where he conducted all his meetings. There was no settling in with a nice coffee and lots of chat, it was down to business. It cut the time of meetings in half.
- Be on time, and start on time: If you tolerate poor time management timelines will slip, and you’ll frustrate the people who’ve been punctual. Don’t recap for those who arrive late. Encourage them to take ownership for finding out what they’ve missed out on.
- Meeting free day: try introducing a meeting-free day into your team culture. This allows people to get on with the important tasks they need to deliver.
- Stack em’ : if you’re working as part of a global team, managing different time zones can be a nightmare. Rather than finding yourself attending late meetings most evenings, try ‘stacking’ them. Agree with your team the night/s that you’re able to join out of hours meetings and stick to those times.
- Master the virtual world: many meetings are now done virtually. This topic warrants a whole article in its own right. However some best practices include:
- Become really comfortable with the platform you’re using. Find out all the tools that you can use e.g. pointers, chat, whiteboards – and use them to help keep people engaged
- Use your camera. No-one likes seeing themselves on screen, but get over it and turn it on. It helps people to stay more engaged and also helps build relationships.
- Invest in tech. Get good headphones that allow you to hear and be heard.Find a quiet space. It’s impossible to concentrate with a lot of background noise. Also, be considerate to others on the call. Dialling in from the train or car might suit you, but the background noise can be really disruptive for others.
- Involve everyone: if you’re facilitating the meeting keep a tally of who has spoken. Make an effort to bring in the quieter people and ensure that no one person dominates.
- Talk about it: discuss as a team what you could do to make things better. Watch ‘A conference call in real time’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kNz82r5nyUw to kick the conversation off.
What couple of tips are you going to try? Remember ‘time flies but you’re the pilot’. Take control of your working day and see if you can get some valuable time back.
For more information on the work we do at Mumager for women returning from maternity leave, working parents and line managers, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org