Think back to all the meetings you’ve attended over the past week: did you walk out of those meetings feeling inspired and motivated, with all of your questions answered and a clear plan for what to do next?
Or did you spend the majority of those meetings struggling to concentrate, or even worse, wondering why you’d been invited in the first place?
If you’re part of the 57% of employees who want fewer meetings, then in this article we’ll share 6 ways to reduce the time you spend in meetings. We’ll show you how to banish all unnecessary meetings from your calendar, and ensure that the meetings you do attend are carefully planned, productive – and finish on time!
By the end of this article, you’ll have freed up a tonne of time in your calendar, so you have more time to spend on completing your projects, meeting your deadlines, and hitting all of your workplace goals.
1. Optimize your meetings, with artificial intelligence
MyAnalytics, formerly known as Delve Analytics, is a Microsoft application that’s designed to help employees be more efficient and productive in the workplace. This service uses powerful artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms to analyze how you’re currently spending your time – and how you should be spending your time.
The MyAnalytics dashboard is divided into four sections: Focus, Wellbeing, Network and Collaboration. All of these sections are worth exploring in detail, but in this article we’ll be concentrating on the Collaboration dashboard:
- Log into the MyAnalytics tool.
- Select “Explore collaborative habits.” You should now be viewing the Collaboration dashboard.
The Collaboration dashboard logs how much time you spend on various collaborative activities, including your Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business calls. For each impromptu call, MyAnalytics records the call duration, while the length of each meeting is taken from your schedule in Microsoft Calendar.
However, the Collaboration dashboard doesn’t just display raw data; MyAnalytics applies artificial intelligence algorithms to your current schedule and previous behaviour, and then suggests changes you can make in order to optimize the time you spend in meetings.
You can review these recommendations by clicking “View Suggestions.” Since these suggestions are tailored to your specific habits and schedule, we recommend implementing all of MyAnalytics’ suggestions unless you have a specific reason not to.
2. Boost your brain-power: Get rid of your smartphone!
To reduce the time you spend in meetings, it’s essential that you come away from every meeting with all your issues addressed, questions answered, and a clear plan for what to do next. If you don’t achieve these goals, then you’ll inevitably wind up in subsequent meetings, covering points that should have been addressed in the previous meeting.
To fulfill your meeting objectives, it’s vital that you give every meeting your full attention. Your typical office may be full of distractions, but there’s one simple change you can make, to boost your concentration and cognitive function – step away from the smartphone!
Research from the University of Texas indicates that your smartphone can significantly impair cognitive function, even if you don’t actually interact with said smartphone! It may feel like you’re giving a meeting your full attention, but the University of Texas’ academic research indicates that simply having your smartphone nearby has a similar impact on cognitive capacity as a poor night’s sleep.
By simply placing your smartphone out of reach, for example in a drawer or bag, you’ll get more out of your meetings – and reduce your chances of being invited to subsequent follow-up meetings!
3. Maximize your time, with batching
Let’s imagine you have 4 meetings to attend, and you can choose from the following schedules:
1. A meeting at 9AM, 10AM, 11AM, and 12PM. 2. A meeting at 10AM, 12AM, 2PM and 4PM.
You also have an important project that must be completed by 5PM – which schedule gives you the greatest chance of meeting this deadline?
While both schedules include 4 hours of “free” time, most people will get far more work done in 4 consecutive hours, compared to dipping in and out of a project throughout the day.
When you do need to attend meetings, you should try to group these together in your calendar, as this will create blocks of time that you can dedicate to your other work. By using this batching technique, you can attend all your important meetings while also leaving plenty of time for your important projects.
4. 70% of meeting time is wasted: Planning your meetings
Just because a meeting occupies a one-hour block in your Calendar, doesn’t mean that meeting has to last the full hour.
Studies suggest that only 30% of meeting time is spent working towards the meeting’s objective(s). However, with a bit of planning, you can often cover meeting objectives more efficiently, and potentially even end your meetings early – reclaiming precious time that you can then devote to other activities.
If you’re going to cover more ground in less time, then it’s important to set clear goals and expectations in advance. If you’re the meeting’s organizer, then you should consider creating a meeting agenda that you can distribute alongside your invitations. When all attendees approach a meeting with the same clear goal in mind, you stand a much better chance of covering all your objectives, in less time.
Before attending a meeting, we also recommend creating a list of questions, concerns or even just general topics that you want to discuss, as this will help you remain focused and drive the meeting towards a positive conclusion, as efficiently as possible.
5. Meeting invites aren’t mandatory!
Just because you get invited to a meeting doesn’t mean you have to attend that meeting!
A survey by digital projection and imaging specialist Barco found that over half of employees are invited to meetings that are irrelevant to them. It may seem like a revolutionary idea, but you don’t have to attend every single meeting you’re invited to!
If you’re unsure about a particular meeting, then why not reach out to the meeting’s organizer for more information? For example, you might request a meeting agenda or a list of discussion topics, as this can provide an insight into whether this particular meeting is relevant to you. Alternatively, you can always ask the meeting’s organizer to clarify why they’ve sent you an invite.
6. Choose the right tech
According to a recent survey, the typical employee wastes 12% of meeting time trying to setup troublesome technology. If you’ve ever struggled to log into a call, then a reliable, intuitive and user-friendly communication platform could drastically reduce the amount of time you spend in meetings.
As part of our exclusive cloud migration package, we’re offering a 6 months free trial of Office 365 which includes a Microsoft Teams subscription. Once you’re up and running with Teams, you can schedule a meeting with any other person, simply by entering their email address:
- Log into your Microsoft Teams account.
- In Teams’ left-hand menu, select “Calendar > New meeting.”
- Give your meeting a title.
- Enter the email address of everyone you want to invite. All attendees will receive an email invite, regardless of whether they have a Microsoft Teams account.
- Specify the date and time when this meeting should take place.
- Add an optional description, or why not use this opportunity to attach documents that’ll give participants the best possible chance of preparing for this meeting, such as a meeting agenda or a list of discussion topics?
- Once you’re happy with the information you’ve entered, click “Save.”
All of these attendees will now receive an email invite, which they can either accept or deny. If they have an Office 365 account, then this meeting will be added to their schedule automatically and they’ll receive a reminder when it’s time to join your meeting.
Want to learn more about how Microsoft Teams is helping people be more efficient and productive in the workplace? Check out our 6 productivity hacks for Microsoft Teams.
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