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Meetings cost you more time than you think

Chris Hufnagel Avatar

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zoom meetings cost you a lot of time.

That 30-minute meeting has way more impact on your energy than you think.

If you are like me, you have at least a few Zoom calls every week. They range in time from the 15-minute quick stand-up to the 2-hour workshop.

The problem with meetings is that we do not often consider the total cost of their impact on our day.

We think a 30-minute meeting costs us only 30 minutes of our work day, but guess what… We are wrong.

Here is how you are screwing yourself with every meeting you take.

  1. Preparing for meetings – This always takes longer than you think if you try to always come to a meeting prepared. No one wants to watch someone search for that Google doc. Come prepared with the link in your notes!
  2. Lack of Flexibility, must be there and paying attention – When you are in a meeting, you give your undivided attention, which is excellent. However, that means that you cannot move other items forward or get up and walk away if you are not in a flow state and need to regroup. Meetings remove your flexibility.
  3. Actions after the meeting (tasks) – When you come out of a meeting, there will probably be new tasks that are created. These items will often sneak into your task list as high priority and completely dominate your day.
  4. Inefficient – most meetings are inefficient because of technology. When we are talking in person, there is no lag. Even the small lag with Zoom creates some weird useless minutes as people try to connect, or headphones stop working. In addition to the technology challenges, people are inefficient. They come unprepared and spend time in the meeting finding items to share. This is a waste of everyone’s time.

How to decrease the cost of a meeting:

  1. Create a prep system and batch it together for all your meetings daily.
    1. For me, that is Notion. This system allows me to identify the meetings I plan to attend, write any notes for the meeting so that I am prepared (I am not always great at shooting from the hip), and identify any deliverables that I need to be bringing. There are many times that this has surfaced a deliverable that fell off the radar, and I was able to course correct it before the meeting deliverable in hand.
  2. Create an agenda for every meeting that you are planning to attend. Even if you are not the host.
    1. I always try to identify the why behind a meeting. Is a key decision getting made, or are we presenting something? If there is no goal for the meeting, could it be postponed until the key stakeholders can come more prepared?
  3. Batch your meetings together, one or two days a week.
    1. This one is incredibly tough. If you only take meetings two days a week, it creates challenges when finding times that work for multiple parties. While I try to keep all my meetings to Monday and Tuesday, I keep Wednesday and Thursday as a backup for something that genuinely must happen.
  4. Only show up for meetings that you need to be at. Don’t be afraid to say no and ask for someone to inform you of the outcome.
    1. Identifying the meetings you need to be at is a challenging skill to master. I am still working on this and have room to grow here. You will probably get it wrong at first, but that is ok. Learn from it.
    2. One trick that I use is that I ask the meeting organizer why they need me there. If the only reason is to listen and be informed, and I am not expected to bring anything to the table, then I ask if I can be informed of any critical decisions via Slack after the meeting.

Meetings are a necessary evil for moving things forward. When done correctly, they do not have to be a giant time suck. The outlined changes have helped me go from hating meetings to

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