Productivity versus Meetings – who will win?

One of the things that is truly irritating is where productivity gets stifled because of constant meetings and indecision.  So if we’re going to look at how to be more productive, we really need to consider how and when meetings should take place, and some steps we can implement to make them more productive.

As lawyers in particular, meetings can be the bane of our existence.  They interrupt our work, and they generally sap our energy.  This is particularly the case when we are busy trying to get things done only to have that annoying reminder on Outlook (or whatever you use) pop up in our face and tell us that we’ve got to go to a meeting with another 15 people to talk about something that’s on somebody else’s agenda.

It’s a problem. I should say that I’m not entirely against meetings – sometimes they are necessary, and sometimes they get things done.  However, by and large there are many, many meetings in which nothing productive of any kind occurs, with any proper decision really just being left to whoever is the highest ranking person in the room.  And yet, they still seem to take a long time.

Want to know How to Be More Productive?  Watch this video…. (yes I’m aware of the irony)

If you want to get things done at work, and generally be more productive, check out this TED video from Jason Fried:

My Five Tips on How to Be More Productive in Meetings

So with a hat tip to Jason, here are my thoughts on how us lawyers can reconsider our meetings and be more productive at work:

  • First, remember that a 15 minute meeting with 10 people isn’t really a 15 minute meeting.  It’s a 150 minute meeting.  If you bill using 6 minute units, then a bit of simple maths will tell you just how much those diversions are costing
  • Second, does it really need a meeting?  Seriously?  If a decision has been made then just communicate the decision.  Then it’s done.
  • Third, if people are being productive and in the middle of something, is it really in the organisation’s best interest to just interrupt them?  How important is the meeting really?
  • Fourth, keep the meeting on track.  Brainstorming sessions are not meetings – they are free-for-alls;
  • Finally, someone needs to be in charge of making a decision, otherwise the committee mentality will just discus it until we all die of old age.  Make it clear who the buck stops with, and then let them make the decision and move on.

That’s my input on how you can be a bit more productive at work today, this week, and in the coming months. Got any more tips?  How do you keep meetings useful and productive? Happy Lawyering!

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