Time to Attack Another Distraction – Meetings

MeetingsI feel that I have done a pretty good job of reducing my email overload and improved my communications within and outside my team. Currently, I feel that meetings are the largest distractor to a person’s productivity (especially mine). As I wrote before, the place of my employment are very meeting centric. We have meetings to prep for meetings. Is that insane or what?

Here is what I have done the last two weeks. I logged every meeting. I took a note during and after the meeting to highlight my level of participation, value of the meeting to me, and graded the meeting – with yes or no (yes – meaning I was multi-tasking and from time to time not paying attention and no – I was fully engaged).  The results were as expected. I have way too many useless, non-value added meetings that I get nothing out of. Did someone else get something from the meeting – I certainly hope so. But, for me – I could have easily used that time for something else.  Some real key moments after the two weeks that I observed:

  • Very few meetings are less than one hour. Must be a standard item – need a meeting, has to be an hour!
  • Agenda’s and purpose of the meeting are definitely a rarity. We have an effective meetings training class that everyone needs to attend, but don’t follow one of the key steps.
  • Meetings usually start 5 minutes late. This could be due to be booked back to back, technical issues with some of the collaboration tools and just plain wasted time.
  • Meeting minutes were rarely published or posted. No minutes, then most meetings were a waste. If there is nothing to report back from the meeting – did the meeting happen?

What to do about this?

There are a series of questions that first popped into my head.

  • It is my calendar, I should control it?  Who is controlling whom?
  • What are all those meetings for? Why? Who is scheduling?

I have started my personal campaign to reduce my meetings.

  •  I have already started to push back on organizers to get a better hold on frequency and length of the meeting.  Especially those meetings that could be on a cadence.
  • I have declined many meetings – flat out – as in the past, I have gotten nothing from the session. I let the organizer know that I am not going to attend any longer – due to the lack of my participation in the meeting.
  • I have marked meetings tentative – with a reply back that there is no agenda or purpose of this meeting – and I will not accept the meeting without it. Right now – I have marked this meeting tentative – to hold your spot. If no agenda or purpose is listed shortly or another meeting with an agenda or purpose comes in – I will have to decline this meeting.
  • On many meetings, I am asking do we need an hour? And those that are 2 or 2+ hours… I just laugh and wonder if I can sit that long. Sometimes, it is not worth pushing back.. But, I know going in, that this meeting is going to be tough.
  • I am trying to limit the number of meetings that I schedule. I can control that.. And need to make sure that I am following my rules.
  • Move much of the work related meetings to a more async approach. Use my team space as a working repository for working collaboratively.

This should be an interesting journey…  I have to give myself at least a month or so of trying, before I try something else.

Do you have any ideas on how to fix this?