Trim Your Meetings to Boost Productivity

Can cutting 10 minutes out of a meeting make your whole day run better?

There's no doubt, says David Silverman at Harvard. He proposes that we start thinking about a standard 50-minute meeting, rather than the traditional one-hour block.

Why? Think about how a day packed with meetings often plays out:

"How often do you find that by 11am you're running late and that by 3pm, you've either been forced to dump a meeting to reset your day or are 100 emails behind because you've gone straight from one appointment to another all day long? Either way, you're leaving someone (or many people) in the lurch. Either way, it's a stressful and unsatisfying existence."
How to manage this better? Think like a student. Back when you were in school, classes were scheduled so you actually had time to get from one class to another. This was crucial in my experience: At the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, I often had to rush more than a mile across campus to get from my journalism classes to my chem or bio courses.

There's another field that famously has 50-minute hours, notes Steven Levy at No Secret, and that's psychiatry and its offshoots. Writes Levy,

"According to psychotherapist Jassy Timberlake, the 50-minute hour 'allows time to jot down any notes that we need to remember, check messages and return any urgent calls and clear our heads before the next client comes in to the office'."
Wouldn't it be nice to do that between your own hectic meetings too? Think about how much more productive you could be if you could synthesize the discussions from your first confab before jumping into another.

So let's take action. Start your meetings on time, and end them 10 minutes early. And let me know how that works out for you.

(image by Stryker W@sp via Flickr, CC 2.0)