Archive for the ‘Time Management’ Category

Meetings – Are they a complete waste of time?

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

I have just returned from a meeting about having a meeting.  How many of you spend an inordinate amount of time during your working day in meetings ?

The first problem is: Why are you there? Often the meeting request is put in your diary (no thanks to technology) and you arrive on time – in my case to find the key people are late, or even more annoying, the meeting  has been ‘rescheduled’.

The next problem that seems to be universal is the purpose of the meeting. What do you hope to achieve from it? This is a special problem if key decision- makers are absent.

Timing is something that seems to escape the consciousness of Chairs and participants. You will be like me and have come across people whose main function is to be present, not offer much, go off on tangents and then start a whole new conversation just as you thought it was time to finish.  Short of screaming, there is not a lot you can do….

Or is there?

Our top tips for successfully surviving meetings are:

  • Ask yourself “Do I need to be there”? Is there another form of getting the information that would be more efficient,  such as a Skype meeting. Can others email me the outcome?
  • As the Chair, always let the participants know what the purpose is and what roles and responsibilities they have.
  • Nominate a timer and have the conclusion time written up where everyone can see it.
  • What outcomes do you want from the meeting? These should be on the agenda which should be sent well in advance.
  • Send out the  minutes/action points as soon as possible following the meeting

In today’s busy world,  a meeting can be either a useful face-to-face experience, or it can be yet another time waster that just leads to frustration.  There are some other useful tips at a website that goes by the memorable name of  The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur



Great way to overcome procrastination over all your New Year resolutions

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

Ah, don’t we plan all manner of goals for the coming year and then very rapidly fall by the wayside?  When I lived in the US, there’d be the usual New Year Resolution stuff in the media, then come January 3rd or 4th I’d see tips for handling your depression about already failing at the resolutions.

There was a memorable metaphor in one of the Quora threads over the break: How do I get over my bad habit of procrastinating?   Via cartoons, it creates Albert, who is the logical bit of your brain, and Rex who is an impulsive baby reptile. Using this metaphor the writer describes the reasons for procrastination and provides some excellent tips for overcoming it.

One tip is: Bias your environment: Rex is shortsighted and not very bright. If he sees a Facebook  icon, he wants it. Design your environment to be free from such distractions.’  How did I come across this link?  Well….I just kind of noticed the Quora entry and the appealing subject line and got distracted into following it!

I’d be interested in hearing how you got on with the tips.

Relationship management: The every 90 day principle

Monday, December 5th, 2011

A client has recently been thrust into a role that requires him to be far more conscious and strategic about his relationship management than in his previous roles. His challenge is one that most of us face: How on earth to fit this aspect into an already very busy job?

In figuring out the answers to that challenge, remember that the people who are your key relationships don’t need you to be hand-in-hand with them every day. Despite the fantastic contribution you could make to their lives, you will just annoy them if you overdo the relationship building thing.

All you need is for your target person to remember you when you need them to! To achieve this, it appears that the client needs to be reminded of your existence in a reasonably positive way, about every ninety days. That reminder might just be that you have had a brief chat in passing, that you have sent them a useful piece of information, included them in an invite, or, of course, made direct contact.

Every ninety days is only once a quarter. Seems easy and the smallness of New Zealand’s population does make the process easier. Its also it, but surprisingly hard to do in reality. The more you can automate the contact the better. There is a Kiwi networker who does it by his Friday Joke List. If you meet him, he always asks if you would like to be on his Friday Joke email. According to his wife, practically everyone says yes. And there he has it: a regular weekly reminder of his existence. We don’t want everyone doing this, but you could find your own approach.

For some ideas, take a look at Robyn Henderson’s networking tips. Henderson is an Australia, so her ideas are likely to work here too.

It’s that time of the year!

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

I was talking recently to a group of women at a Her Business (more…)

Goals and a Tour de France cycling trip

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

I am just back from cycling parts of the Tour de France with Adventure Travel.  We biked most of the big climbs and although I’d trained a lot by my standards, it was still long and challenging.  Given that my cycling is in the category of ‘weekend warrior’, biking those climbs gave me plenty of time to reflect on the challenges of working towards goals.

From the depths of huffing and puffing, here are my thoughts:

  1. Whilst your goal can seem totally daunting when you gaze up at it, once you really set out  it is never quite as hard as it look.
  2. You may be slow, but when you have committed to the goal, it really is a matter of just keeping on doing what you have to do until you get there.
  3. Take all the advice you can get – you never know what small thing can make a big difference.
  4. Find some spectators to offer encouragement – they help enormously.
  5. When you finally make it to the top, take the time to look back down where you came from – wow what a feeling of satisfaction!

Meetings: Time wasted in meetings matters for leadership

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

There’s an interesting article in the January 2011 Training Journal: ‘What’s Wrong With Work’ by Blair Palmer.  Rather than talking about leadership skills per se, he talks about organisational barriers to managers actually using their leadership skills – barriers that would ‘make even the most motivated, confident, driven manager shudder’.

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 One such barrier is the time wasted in meetings.  Palmer quotes very interesting American research on meetings* estimating that  managers spend approximately 60 hours a month in meetings and 30 -50% of that time is wasted.  When attendees are canvassed afterwards, they have widely varying ideas on what was decided, or even if anything was decided!

Interestingly the Training Journal article sees waste-of-time meetings as an unnecessary frustration put in the way of middle managers by  senior executives. While most senior executives know meetings waste vast amounts of time in an organisation, they don’t believe it can be any different.

But meetings don’t have to be  a waste of time  and ensuring that you lead effective meetings  can add considerably to your  mana.  Make sure you seek feedback  about the effectiveness of your own meetings – the research showed that the meeting initiator typically regards the meeting as far more productive than the other attendees!

  1. The key to a good meeting is preparation. The research in the white paper found that the average time spent on preparation for a meeting described as ‘productive’ was twice as long (one hour!) as the preparation time for a meeting described as ‘unproductive’.
  2. The single most valuable preparation factor is the agenda – even having one is an innovative idea in some meetings!  Keep the agenda very focused on the type of issue meetings are good for – resolving conflicts – Hence an intriguing post on the Life Hacker blog: Make meetings more productive by arguing.
  3. Work out  your goal  for each agenda item and ask yourself if a meeting is necessary in order to do that. For example, don’t use a meeting for sharing information – there are loads of more efficient ways of doing that.
  4. Use an approach for each agenda item that will enable the meeting to achieve its goal.
  5. Order your agenda so you start with a positive item, then wade into the conflicts because they will take the most time; then finish on a positive note.

Start anywhere with these tips and they can make a perceptible difference.  The quality of your meetings could have a big impact on employee engagement.  Despite our negativity about meetings,the research showed that 92% of meeting attendees value meetings as an opportunity to contribute.

* The research was conducted by Info Com which specialises in market research in the telecommunications arena.