A great guest blog from George Mahoney on emails and meetings. I enjoyed and thought you might enjoy too.
It's 4:20PM and I am sitting through my fifth meeting of the day.
You notice I use the words "sitting through", as we are not really working. We are simply looking at a PowerPoint presentation that I could have read at my office in less than 5 minutes.
I look around the room and see 2 people typing away on their laptops and another 3 texting on their phones. A few years ago I would have called these people inconsiderate, but now I am secretly wishing I was doing the same thing.
Despite having answered emails before and after each of my meetings today, and during "lunch", I know more and more are collecting in my inbox. What bothers me even more is that most of them are probably coming from the same people who were smart enough to bring their laptops to THIS meeting.
I look around the room again and realize that half of the people at the table shouldn't even be at this meeting. At that moment, it becomes very clear why we have such a hard time getting anything done around here.
When I get back to my desk, I decide to check my email one last time before heading home. Even though I have over 100 new emails since lunch, I am happy to see that 25 of them are junk mail.
At least deleting those emails will make me feel like I made some progress today.
At about 6:15PM, I head to the parking garage completely exhausted and worse yet, frustrated.
I spent over 10 hours at work, but I did not accomplish a single thing.
How many times have you experienced this same thing over the past month?
In order to help break the cycle, I have provided a few tips below on how to reduce your two biggest time wasters – emails and meetings.
• Designate specific times of the day to check and respond to emails. If you stop doing real work to check even one email, it will throw off your productivity.
• "Unsubscribe" from junk mail. Even if deleting junk mail makes you feel good, it still wastes time and distracts you from what's important.
• Never hold a meeting that will last over 45 minutes. If you can't get it done in that time, you are either not prepared or you are trying to cover too many topics.
• Never invite people to a meeting who do not need to be there.
• Set the same expectations for people who are inviting you to their meetings. Challenge the time length, ask for an agenda, and most importantly, decline the meeting if you do not feel you would add value.
Over the next two weeks, I challenge you to implement one of these rules and let me know how it turns out.
If you can think of anything that is not on my list, I would ask that you share those as well