Happy Clean Off Your Desk Day! Once you’ve done that, clean up your calendar and gain more time back into your day by scheduling fewer meetings.

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Happy Clean Off Your Desk Day!

Once you’re done cleaning off your desk, I suggest cleaning up your calendar by reducing the number of meetings you schedule. It’s a guaranteed way to gain more time, and who couldn’t use more of that?

According to results of a Microsoft Office survey, ineffective meetings are the top time wasters of workers around the world. The online survey drew responses from more than 38,000 people in 200 countries, with the following outcomes:

  • Employees spend 5.6 hours each week in meetings.
  • Most respondents — 69 percent — said meetings weren’t productive. In the U.S., 71 percent of respondents felt meetings weren’t productive.

What prevents meetings from being productive? Research and analysis by Nicholas Romano and Jay Nunamaker found that meeting problems include: poor or inadequate preparation, no goals or agenda, disorganized meetings and inconclusive outcomes. That’s rough, when you consider their findings show that managers often spend up to 80 percent of their time in meetings.

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To gain more time back into your day, try following these steps, before you schedule a meeting:

Ask yourself, “Do I really need to hold this meeting?” Speaking directly to employees will often get you the answers you need in much less time. Perhaps you can accomplish what needs to be done without pulling people into a meeting.

Ask yourself, “Why do I want to hold this meeting?” Clearly define the purpose of the meeting and the objectives that need to be accomplished.

Run the numbers. Figure out how much the meeting will cost — because time is a precious commodity. According to Romano and Nunamaker, if there are 10 attendees at an average salary of $75,000, then the hourly cost of your meeting will be $750 — and that doesn’t include preparation time. Is your topic worth the time or would you be better off speaking directly with the appropriate employees?

If you still think you need to schedule a meeting, create a detailed agenda. This should include the objectives of the meeting, list of attendees, time length, topics for discussion, decisions that need to be made or actions that need to be taken, and any preparation work for attendees to complete prior to the meeting. If you can’t create a detailed agenda, then you shouldn’t hold the meeting. This should be a red flag that you’re better off speaking directly to individuals to help you get whatever it is you need.

Lisa Quast is the founder of Career Woman, Inc., and the author of the book Secrets of a Hiring Manager Turned Career Coach. Email her at lquast@careerwomaninc.com.