How to Reduce Time Spent in Meetings for Creative Professionals

Who loves to sit in meetings all day long…especially if they are unproductive? Interrupting your organizations’ workflow to hold a meeting can be extremely costly. The time your co-workers spend during meetings that are inefficient becomes wasted labor for your organization. On Average, 31 hours are wasted in meetings per month.

One solution to this common problem is to invest in creative project management software. Integrating this software solution will allow easy collaboration with others in your organization, making it unnecessary to schedule frequent meetings or send out an obscene number of emails.

Although investing in a creative project management solution will decrease the total number of meetings held per month, when a meeting does need to take place, it is important to reduce the time spent in meetings. Featured below are tips to effectively eliminate wasted labor in meetings.

Evaluate the meeting

Before scheduling a meeting, you must evaluate the importance of holding a meeting. If the purpose for holding a meeting is to complete a simple task or achieve a common goal, a meeting should not take place. Rather consider alternatives for achieving such a task by reaching out and delegating work to a specific person or team via phone call or email.

Now, if you decide a meeting does need to take place, before scheduling a time, make sure the meeting will benefit whoever is assigned to attend. Creating an agenda with specific time frames for each topic of discussion will be a great tool for being efficient and staying on track.

Define the purpose and goals

Before a meeting takes place, the purpose behind the gathering should be clearly communicated with each person attending. In addition, if an action meeting is taking place, goals should be established. This will allow everyone to fully understand how the meeting pertains to their position and why the meeting is important rather than a waste of their time. Informing your co-workers with a preview of the meeting will allow them time to brainstorm ideas, or prepare quality questions and comments. Using this tactic will decrease discussion time as contributions will be more valuable and well thought out. Then, as the meeting begins you should briefly take 1-2 minutes to recap the purpose and goals of the meeting.

Stay on Track

In order to stay focused during a meeting, the agenda needs to be strictly followed. Foremost, punctuality is key as the meeting must start on time. This can be accomplished by establishing meeting expectations and ground rules so co-workers are not walking in at 10:01 for the 10 o’clock meeting. Realistically though, no matter how strict your meeting policy is, there will almost always be stragglers or people who do not show up. Although it may be hard, avoid saying, “Let’s wait a couple more minutes”. People who show up late should not be allowed into meeting as there is no room in the agenda for catching people up on what they missed. Minutes should be kept and sent out for those who did not attend. I know this seems like such a simple rule of thumb, but this is one of the main reasons why meetings run longer than scheduled.

Another important reason why meetings overrun is because discussions tend to get off topic. This is also a common problem with an easy solution. If someone brings up a topic irrelevant to the planned discussion, it is expected that the meeting facilitator leads the meeting back on agenda. This can be hard to do as some irrelevant discussions can be interesting, but the meeting facilitator must take control and tell the person to write down his or her ideas for later discussion outside of the meeting. Staying on track and following these two tips will significantly reduce time spent in meetings.

It’s important to remember how valuable time is. Do not waste yours or your co-workers’ time by scheduling unproductive meetings. The best way to reduce the number of meetings held per month is by investing in creative project management software. To reduce time spent in meetings, you should first evaluate all the alternatives to scheduling a meeting. If you do feel that a meeting is needed, you must clearly communicate the purpose and goals with your co-workers, stress the importance of punctuality, and make sure the meeting stays on topic by strictly following the agenda. Start using these tips, and I guarantee they increase productivity and reduce the time spent in meetings.