Is It Time To Question Your Calendar?

Get the most out of your BUSY WORKING DAY by eliminating UNNECESSARY MEETINGS

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You’ve heard of “mission creep?” It refers to a gradual shift in goals during a battle or some other military campaign, often leading to a long-term commitment that was never part of the original plan. A similar problem is “meeting creep,” a phenomenon in which, without you even noticing, your schedule starts filling up over weeks and months with new meetings that then become routine. More meetings = less action.

1. Do a meeting audit. To keep meetings in check, do a meeting audit every few months. Ask yourself whether each meeting is the best use of everyone’s precious time. It’s an approach that Lew Cirne, the chief of New Relic, a software analytics company, puts into regular practice. “One of the things I do on a quarterly basis is to review the standing meetings on my calendar, and every one of them ought to be able to defend itself,” he says. “The point is not to keep going to that meeting just because you always have. I ask myself ‘Why?’ and I encourage my managers to question their calendars, too.”

2. Have at least one “no meeting day”. Facebook has a company-wide policy of no meetings on Wednesdays. Being unavailable for meetings allows uninterrupted productive time spent actually working and also removes the time spent prepping for the meeting
and the often extensive “to-do” list that results from the meeting.

3. Cancel them all. Want to try a more drastic measure? You could borrow a page from Stewart Butterfield, chief of Slack, the messaging service for teams, and cancel your regular meetings to see which ones you miss and want to restore. “People can go to work every day for a year and not really get anything done because they’re just doing the things that they felt they were supposed to be doing,” Butterfield says. “We just went through this process of cancelling almost every recurring meeting that we had, to see which ones we really needed. We probably do need some of the ones we cancelled, and they’ll come back but we’ll wait until we actually need them again.”

4. Pile it on. Kathleen Finch, chief programming, content and brand officer at Scripps Networks Interactive, likes to hold a meeting every few months that she calls a “pile-on meeting”. “I bring about 25 people into a room and go over all the different projects that are coming up in the next six months, and everybody piles on with their ideas to make those projects as successful as they can be,” she said. “The rule walking into the meeting is you must forget your job title. I don’t want the marketing person just talking about marketing. I want everyone talking about what they would do to make this better. It is amazing what comes out of those meetings.”

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