This is the time of year when we reflect on the year that is closing and make promises to ourselves about what we want to be different next year. We try new things, re-commit to being better, and seek out ideas and approaches to make improvements in our lives.
As someone who works long hours, travels often, and values social and family involvement, I think a lot about time management. This recently caught my eye:
The piece highlights the importance of creating and protecting “make” time to think about and do meaningful creative work, instead of getting sucked into all “management” time where you attend or run meetings, working in 30-60 minute increments.
One conclusion sounds familiar: Meetings should be shorter. We hear it from our clients all the time: they attend too many meetings, they don’t have time to get work done, and meetings should just be shorter so they can actually do work.
But if all of your meetings switched from 60 to 30 or 45 minutes, wouldn’t you just have more meetings? Wouldn’t you have to switch between even more topics throughout your day? You wouldn’t actually have more time to work, you’d simply have more demands for smaller pieces of your day.
I recommend longer meetings. Hear me out! Longer meetings aren’t always necessary, but they can often be better meetings. How many times have you left a meeting with unfinished discussions? How often are the last five minutes spent finding another hour when you can align the schedules of everyone in the room to pick up the conversation? How often are those five minutes after the meeting should have ended and you’re late to your next meeting?
I know people are somewhat resistant to scheduling a 90-minute or 2-hour meeting, but what if that longer meeting was instead of having three or four 1-hour meetings? Wouldn’t the return on investment be worth finding the extra time in the first place?
Of course, you need to follow good meeting practices to make that longer meeting worth it. You need to have a clear objective for the meeting. You have to get the right people in the room or on the line together. They need to have the right information to participate. You need to spend time thinking through the meeting agenda and approach. You have to follow up with the decisions and actions. But doing meetings better means potentially fewer meetings. So you will have time for that work.
Let’s resolve in 2016 to be thoughtful about the time we spend together. Be realistic about how much you need to accomplish the work, and do it right.