How Much Time Are You Wasting in Meetings?

Author: Jaime Garispe

We have probably all had days where meetings overtake our schedule for the day, which means that we end up taking our work home with us and needing to put in extra time to get our actual work done. Of course, communication is important but an excess of ineffective meetings can squander company time and money. As an example, if two people are 15 minutes late to a meeting with six people in it, that means the company has lost at least 1 hour of work time between the 4 employees waiting for the meeting to begin. You can actually calculate the cost per meeting here.

At Akins, we are certainly not immune to the trend of too many meetings and we are constantly working to try to minimize the number of meetings and to make the ones that we do have more effective. We have come up with some ideas on how to do this:

  1. Do we REALLY need to have a meeting for this?

    We look to tools like Microsoft Teams and Yammer for communication so that we don’t rely solely on email, calls, and in-person meetings. This has cut down some noise and helped us avoid a few meetings.

  2. Internal Meetings = 15 Minutes

    If it’s an internal meeting, the default duration of the meeting is set to 15 minutes. This forces us to start on time and stay on task to make sure we can cover everything in the 15 minutes.

  3. Preset Agendas

    The goal is to have an agenda for every meeting so we know exactly what we’re covering and it’s easier to stay on task. Our team has been good about holding each other accountable on this also and will jokingly remind the meeting organizer that the meeting is lacking an agenda by commenting: “No agenda, no attenda.”

  4. “Groove Time”

    When the meetings seem to really be adding up, we encourage the team to mark “groove time” on their calendar whenever possible. This is a block of time that will allow them to work without meeting interruptions so they can focus for a significant chunk of time. What seems to be worst with scheduling is when there is a meeting every half hour so your attention is on the meeting and then you have 30 minutes to work and then back to a meeting. We try to avoid the multi-tasking by grouping meetings together to preserve this “groove time.”

  5. Do Not Disturb

    Our Skype settings has an option for “Do Not Disturb,” which is another way team members can focus without meetings or distractions.

  6. Assigning a Timekeeper

    Before the meeting begins, one person takes on the role of being the “timekeeper” to let participants know when there are only 5 minutes left.

  7. Prioritizing

    Our CEO will sometimes jokingly say that he has 10 No. 1 priorities at any given time. There always seems to be a surplus of important things to get done and it can be overwhelming until they really are prioritized from most important to least.

  8. Recording Action Items!

    We also assign a notetaker who jots down action items that come from the meeting and circulates these to the meeting participants afterward. Tracking these action items is critical to making sure we don’t meeting on the same thing more than once.

Read more about our culture here.