Often time, the way a meeting is scheduled determines how successful it is.
This month’s productivity tips focus on how to transform your usual meetings into productive, short, and well-spent time – by reflecting on the old old ways of how they are usually conducted, trying to understand the design flaws no one questioned before.
Our featured leadership and time management influencers offer some tips to blow a fresh air into your stuffy, lengthy, and ineffective meetings.
Let’s dive in.
Parkinson’s Law in Meetings
A meeting is as long as it’s designed to be – start with the agenda, not time, and collaborate on making duration estimation.
Parkinson’s Law is stated as “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”.
In the context of meetings, the duration of the meeting is as long as it’s designed to be. If one sets out to have a 1-hour long meeting, it is usually the time it takes regardless of the significance of the agenda discussed.
For example : a manager wants to hold a 30-minute meeting to reach a decision, even though the decision can be reached in 5 minutes, chances are that the discussion will expand to fill the full 30 minutes.
To stop wasting time on this type of meeting, start with the agenda, not the duration.
Make it clear what the things are that you want to talk about – start with Purpose and Agenda, estimate beforehand, and together with other participants how long each item takes, then come up with the meeting duration.
Try this on Amazemeet’s canvas.
Start short meetings X minutes before the hour
Efficient meetings are short ones. The easiest way to have a short meeting is to start it X minutes before the hour.
For example, a meeting at 8:40 that is scheduled to go to 9 rarely goes past 9.
One reason for this is most other events and meetings start on the even hour. So there is often an urgency to finish the short meeting.
And “odd” meeting start times are easy to remember.
I encourage everyone to set their device alarms a couple of minute before each meeting so they are not late.
Scheduling Meetings like Warren Buffett
Schedule meetings one day in advance so you get to determine how you spend the next foreseeable 24 hours as you feel like it.
Badly timed meetings are bad.
Warren Buffett has been said to usually not schedule his meetings more than one day in advance.
Someone who wants to meet him will be told to call in on Thursday if they want to meet him on Friday.
By doing this, he can determine how he wants to spend his time in the next 24 hours instead of weeks or months in the future. His schedule is therefore relevant, not prescient.
Try doing this for your next meetings, the ones when someone just asks for your time and attention – not dependent on other factors.
This won’t make you as successful as Buffett, but it gives you the power to decide how to spend your next foreseeable hours, and puts you into a more pro-active position in how to conduct your meetings.
Originally written by Jason Fried
The magical 30-minute meeting
Often we allocate 1 hour for most meetings, phone calls or appointments. Why should that be our standard allotment for so many things?
When we halve that slot – compressing time – people are more likely to: focus on critical points instead of stretching to reach the 1 hour by doing unnecessary tasks and having going-no-where conversations (think Parkinson’s Law).
Moreover, everyone will tend to be on time and come prepared (now that you only have 30 minutes!). Every minute makes a difference.
Most importantly, compressing time spent on meetings and other tactical work gives you more unstructured time to spend on activities and people you love.
Originally written by Peter Bregman