The Problem

Have you ever taken a step back and looked at how much time you waste in meetings? Nic Haralambous wrote a great article on the 25 minute meeting. While I fully agree with his principles, being a small business playing in a B2B and corporate market, it’s difficult to ask clients to come to your office for meetings. This means, you’re traveling time also needs to be taken into account. So for a 25 minute meeting, you’re out of the office for at least an hour.

Last month, I found myself falling extremely far behind on crucial tasks, because day after day I was in meeting after meeting. Worst of all, my inbox, (which I’m OCD about getting to zero was) filling up faster than I could say “Zero Inbox”, I started missing important mails that needed to be handled that day.

Don’t get me wrong, meetings are important, they are essential to grow your business, but do we really need to meet at the drop of a hat? How often are you asked to meet with this line – “Hi Dan, I’d love to have coffee and talk about this idea I have that you potentially may be interested in?” – I’m the first person to jump at this, I love opportunities, but can’t we be open from the first conversation? If you want to meet about something, email a short description of what it’s about and if it grabs my eye, then lets meet, otherwise we just wasting both our time.

I used to be the biggest culprit. I love meeting people, networking, discussing ideas and jumping at any opportunity to meet anyone whenever I could. It became too much. Before I could blink, my diary was filled with meetings for the next three weeks. Yes some were important meetings that had to happen, but the majority were catch ups, meetings or simply to say hi, etc. A friend of mine asked me to join him for lunch and when I had to say, “I can only do lunch in 3 weeks’ time, I realised, it was time to make a change!”

The Solution

I implemented the No Meeting Week Principle once a month. For that week, I cancelled all my internal meetings, pushed big client pitches to the following week and planned my week around productivity. Ultimately I was doing work that made an immediate impact to our business. The results…Outstanding! I produced three months’ worth of planned work in a single week and our business is already seeing the positive outcome.

Moving forward, I plan to have two meeting days a week, the other three days will be creative and productivity days; doing things that make an immediate difference in our company. The key to success to my no meeting week – You just have to say no, no matter the situation, no matter how badly you want that meeting. There will always be another day. Well that’s my opinion.

The other killer when it comes to meetings are Management Meetings. As Jason Fried said so well in his talk “Why work doesn’t happen at work”, the biggest distraction at work is “M&M”, Meetings and Managers. 8 – 9 hours of work in a day is minimal, it flies past in the blink of an eye, so it is crucial that every moment in the office is spent wisely and productively.

Next, I’m going to look into Richard Branson’s philosophy of working longer days for just 3 days a week. – I’m skeptical but it’s worth a try.

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