Meetings are ok

Meetings get a lot of bad press. They are pictured as the main evil in any workplace just after email. When we talk about meeting the primary image is that it’s long, boring and low value event that everyone has to attend. Many try to ban them completely or reduce them significantly.
Meetings are not inherently good or bad. What has happened is too many people abused the idea and purpose of many, many meetings and converted them in to this hated monster that is now.

Meetings are here to stay, they are simple a fact of an office life. We may not like them but just like taking out the trash we have to do them.

But when you think of meetings they are actually ok. It’s an excellent form of exchanging ideas, making decisions, discussing the goals and direction of the company or providing an update about progress and issues with current work. Think of some good examples of meeting that you had in the past. Things were running smooth, people were active and engaged. At the end everyone left feeling that something good has been done and that meeting was productive.

So how can you repeat that and get the same positive effect every time you organise a meeting:

Purpose

clear purpose of a meeting. There are there three generic type:

  1. idea generation
  2. decision
  3. update

Stay on Course

keep the meeting to the point if the topic is project Y then this is the only thing to be discussed. See Parkinson’s Law a task expands to the amount of time given so it the meeting if your don’t stick to your agenda then you’re likely get side tracked.

Time

Specific time allocation: 15min, 30min, 45min, 1h. Once you know the purpose and the topics it’s relatively easy to determine how much time is needed. Stick to it so the meeting doesn’t overrun.

Attendees

Correct number and level of attendees. If the meeting is about making decisions then people who can make them should be there. If you need to update your team make sure they are all there so you don’t have to repeat the message to every single person.

These four elements that can help you make the meetings better. If you are mostly attending the meetings see if you can influence the organiser. When you see them putting together another boring and long meeting ask them about it. See if they know what they want to achieve with it. Perhaps over time they will change their approach especially if the get to experience a smooth and engaging meetings.

Weekly Links for 6th of June

A weekly collection of posts and articles about productivity, time management, tools and technology.

  1. What You Said: How Do You Keep Notes?
  2. 3 Labs graduations, 1 retirement | Gmail Blog
  3. Managing Content w/ a Dashboard Pt. 3 – Clients | The Mindjet Blog
  4. Video: "Broken Meetings (and how you’ll fix them)" | 43 Folders
  5. Five Things We Need to Know About Technological Change

If you have any interesting articles please share them in the comments section.

Get unstuck and get more done

Just wanted to share two great tips that I came across very recently.

Randy Murray writes about getting better grip on your projects, getting to understand what is that a project should deliver. Quite often people procrastinate on things, put them off as much as they can simply because they don’t understand what’s required from them. They weren’t told what’s the purpose of the project. A list of actions to complete is not enough, it doesn’t provide any context to a project. It simply says get it moving, get it done.

A solution that Randy proposes is to write a project abstract. Write couple sentences outlining what’s the project about, why it’s important and who benefits from it. This might help you get a fresh energy to work on that project.

I think this is a great advise especially if all your focus is on cranking out next action steps. After a while it can become dull and boring. Making a project abstract or writing down the successful outcome (vide GTD) is a good way to remind yourself where are you going. Envisioning success can be uplifting and revitalizing. Previously dull and boring project  will now look like something real and alive, it’s much easier to put your energy in it.

Second tip is from Jason Womack. In below video he talks about meetings and in the wider context making the most of your time when plans are changing. You were due to attend a meeting but it’s been cancelled. What do you do with that extra time? How do you react to a cancellation? Jason points that rather than getting busy with your email or organizing your stuff, find 2-3 things you would do if you had an extra time. You’ve just been given an extra 1h of time.

What is a way to get more done each day? Jason Womack

This is so simple and powerful idea that it can be easily overlooked. In majority of workplaces we are pressed for time so those unexpected “time windows” where you’re scheduled to do something else are great opportunities. I think it takes some practice to shift from busy work to working something more productive. It’s super easy to burn hour checking email.

Start thinking that you’ve been given an extra hour and make a habit of spending that time on tasks that are important to you. Keep your task list updated and current so next time someone cancels a meeting you know what to do.