How to keep meetings under control

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(MoneyWatch) A few weeks ago, I visited Ocean Spray, the cranberry company. It would be hard to find a more beautiful work setting: A sprawling New England mansion lying behind a vast cranberry bog. One reason I was there is because I can't help but be struck by how innovative the business is; it takes a lot of creativity to take a small bitter fruit and spin it out into a multi-million dollar global business. But I also appreciated their rules around meetings:

  • No meetings before 9am.
  • No meetings at lunchtime.
  • No meetings after 4pm.

What's so great about these rules? Well, they're obviously family friendly. I've lost track of the number of companies that promote work/life balance, only to undermine the entire initiative by calling breakfast meetings and working late. These rules signal unambiguously that families are okay.

They also help executives plan and protect their time. One of the worst aspects of working in an office is constant interruptions and the inability to manage one's own time. This is the chief reason why people love working from home. If I know when meetings are - and when they aren't - I'm in a far stronger position to schedule my time productively

I know cranberries are good for you; maybe they make people smarter too.

  • Margaret Heffernan On Twitter»

    Margaret Heffernan has been CEO of five businesses in the United States and United Kingdom. A speaker and writer, her most recent book Willful Blindness was shortlisted for the Financial Times Best Business Book 2011. Visit her on www.MHeffernan.com.

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