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Time-Sink Meetings: Tips for “Victims”??

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  • Time-Sink Meetings: Tips for “Victims”??

    Most advice on productivity and meetings is written from the vantage point of those who hold or run the meetings – have an agenda, start/stop on time, record action items for specific follow-through, etc.

    Very little is written from the perspective of the poor worker bees who must sit through pointless meetings. What tips are there for people who must go to meetings, in order to salvage productivity? Lobby to be excused? Take other (unrelated?) materials to work on or review? Any tips?

    I’d like to compile a list of tips for those who are on the “receiving” end of time-sink meetings. Thanks

  • #2
    Interrupt meandering discussions by asking "What's the next action?"

    Or, if that might baffle those not in the know, "What's the next thing we need to do about this?" Longer sentence, but maybe more digestible.

    I plan to try this out at my next meeting, a week from tomorrow.

    Comment


    • #3
      here are a few tips

      Hi Rogaine Warrior. I've been collecting these for clients. Here are a few, but most need to change the person making the meetings. However, deciding whether to *attend* is within your control. Even if "manditory," you might convince superiors to let you off if you can give a compelling argument on time lost, work not done, etc.

      From "The Personal Efficiency Program: How to Get Organized to Do More Work in Less Time", by Kerry Gleeson:
      1. Identify the meeting's purpose.
      2. Prepare properly.
      3. Keep the meeting on traack.
      4. Be decisive.
      5. Distribute meeting munutes promptly and stick to the decisions
      made.

      You Have to Start Meeting Like This!
      http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/23/begeman.html

      How to Design Small Decision Making Groups
      http://www.intuitor.com/statistics/SmallGroups.html

      You still want meetings. Here's how to make them useful. - Signal vs. Noise (by 37signals)
      http://37signals.com/svn/archives2/y...hem_useful.php

      10 Steps To Better Meetings
      http://www.to-done.com/2005/08/10-st...tter-meetings/


      I hope these help. If you come across good resources, please pass them on! (matthewcornell@gmail.com)

      matt

      Comment


      • #4
        If you are only affected by one or few of the meetings topics, you should ask if it is possible, that these topics are handled first. This works even better if you are well prepared for "your" topics.
        This is not a solution for all problems, but it might help if it applies to you.

        Yours
        Alexander

        Comment


        • #5
          The question "What is the purpose of this meeting?" which appears in the GTD book is gold dust in my opinion and I have used a few times in the past to good effect. It really helps focus minds when the meetings seem to go nowhere and get tied up in rabbit holes, etc. Of course, if the meeting is being conducted by your boss then it could be a risky (but possibly still valid) question to ask.....

          Comment


          • #6
            Have the courage to say, "I really need to get back to work on (an important project); is there anything else I'm needed for here?"

            I've done this, and my co-workers have done this. I've never seen a negative reaction to it. And almost every time, the person doing it has been able to leave the meeting.

            Comment


            • #7
              I'm a victim of time sink meetings. We have a weekly staff meeting. The whole purpose of it is so that the government guy we report to can have face to face time with the group. The location alternates between our office and the other company involved in the project, so thankfully I only have to deal with it every other week. My entire part of this meeting takes less than a minute. The rest of the time is taken up by others. Some sidebar discussions can go on for an hour while everyone just sits there wasting time. Though I could be excused for meaningful work, I could not get away with the excuse indefinitely. I am stuck in these meetings. I often take out my Pocket PC and try to do GTD on it while occasionally looking up so I don't look like I'm playing games.

              These meetings literally break every meeting rule that exists.

              Comment


              • #8
                Is it really such pain?

                Originally posted by emuelle1
                I'm a victim of time sink meetings. We have a weekly staff meeting. The whole purpose of it is so that the government guy we report to can have face to face time with the group. The location alternates between our office and the other company involved in the project, so thankfully I only have to deal with it every other week. My entire part of this meeting takes less than a minute. The rest of the time is taken up by others. Some sidebar discussions can go on for an hour while everyone just sits there wasting time. Though I could be excused for meaningful work, I could not get away with the excuse indefinitely. I am stuck in these meetings. I often take out my Pocket PC and try to do GTD on it while occasionally looking up so I don't look like I'm playing games.

                These meetings literally break every meeting rule that exists.
                So you waste 1 hour during 2 weeks. It is less than 1/80 = 1.25% of your work time (assuming 40 hour work week). It is less than 1/(2*7*24) = 0.3% of your life time. Is it really such pain? Do you really hate your boss and all the people attending the meetings? No chance for positive thinking?

                Comment


                • #9
                  I don't hate anyone. I just don't find these meetings to be a productive use of time, but of course that is out of my control, and I'm not alone in my assessment. It does take a good sized chunk out of Friday morning every other week though.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Accept it.

                    As it does not waste a significant part of your work time and you like your work and there is no chance to change anything you should accept it.

                    I hate to shave every morning - it is such useless waste of time but it is a part of an agreement - I want to look good so I have to do it.

                    Consider positives and negatives and then decide what to do. At least you will know why you are "wasting" your time (what the bigger picture purpose is).

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by emuelle1
                      I'm a victim of time sink meetings. We have a weekly staff meeting. The whole purpose of it is so that the government guy we report to can have face to face time with the group. The location alternates between our office and the other company involved in the project, so thankfully I only have to deal with it every other week. My entire part of this meeting takes less than a minute. The rest of the time is taken up by others. Some sidebar discussions can go on for an hour while everyone just sits there wasting time. Though I could be excused for meaningful work, I could not get away with the excuse indefinitely. I am stuck in these meetings. I often take out my Pocket PC and try to do GTD on it while occasionally looking up so I don't look like I'm playing games.
                      You found a way to minimize the time loss.
                      By combining the methods (one week you ask for early dismissal from the meeting, two or three times GTD on PPC) you can press your real timeloss well below 1% of working time. As TESTEQ writes it is not worth to fight for a lesser loss by the risk to loose reputation.
                      A possible solution I still see is discussing with your boss, if he is able to arrange that you and your colleagues can also rotate in the meeting to cut the costs for your company.

                      Yours
                      Alexander

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Look, guys, all I was doing was sharing with the discussion that I have to deal with "Time Sink Meetings", which is the subject of the original post. I'm not quite sure why TesTeq seems to have latched on to my post. Please, take a step back.

                        Also, consider from the standpoint of the math that you have performed, there is more time involved to meetings than simply the block on your calendar. There are usually before and after discussions. I start work at 6:30 AM and the meeting is 7:45 AM on Friday. There is not really much of a chance to be productive before the meeting, and I don't know how many people walk out of an hour and a half to 2 hour meeting and jump right back into productivity.

                        Anyway, as to the original subject of the post, I'll just say that I've been there. As for telling me "you should accept it", believe me, I have, I was only trying to contribute to the post.
                        Last edited by emuelle1; 03-09-2006, 07:05 AM.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Sorry, I will never do it again.

                          Originally posted by emuelle1
                          Look, guys, all I was doing was sharing with the discussion that I have to deal with "Time Sink Meetings", which is the subject of the original post. I'm not quite sure why TesTeq seems to have latched on to my post. Please, take a step back.
                          Sorry for trying to help you and reduce your pain. Apparently you did not need it. I promise I will never do it again. Have a good day.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Perhaps we're misreading each other. Like I said, I was just trying to contribute to the original post. I've accepted long ago that I must attend as a part of my job. Someone posted about time sink meetings and my male urge to prove I've been there and done it better than everybody else came to the surface. Whatever I've done to you, I'm sorry.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I used to attend a weekly meeting where the two groups were connected via videolink. One of my colleagues at my side used to sit out of camera range and fall asleep. Whereas this might not be particularly productive, I can not help but admire the relaxed audaciousness of this strategy (it was also funny to watch).

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