Imagine you’re given a magic potion every day that makes you great at creative thinking for a few hours. The catch? You have to drink it first thing in the morning. Knowing this, would you want to spend your hours waiting in line or sitting in meetings? But here we are, stuck with the everyday occurrence of morning meetings.
This is exactly what happens to millions of workers every day. Mornings are the best time to get creative writing and other problem solving done. Yet the average manager spends 8.5 hours per week in meetings, and most of them are bundled up into recurring events aimed at getting everyone on the same page first thing in the morning. Is there a better way? Research says yes.
Set a timer
“Work expands to the time allowed.” That’s the gist of Parkinson’s Law. The easiest way to have shorter meetings is to… well… schedule them to be shorter. Without a pressure to finish inside of 20 minutes, there’s room for meandering conversation and off-topic threads are easier to forgive. The important tangents can be addressed separately, but booking an hour meeting to allow those conversations drains everyone else’s productivity.
Lew Cirne, the CEO of New Relic keeps his meetings in check by only attending ones where everyone can sit at a six-person table in his office. Any larger than that and he checks out. High headcounts in meetings drain hours of time and can be replaced with a well-timed summary email or message in something like Hipchat or Slack.
Cancel your next meeting
Yes, canceling your morning meeting is different than improving it, but you don’t know what you had (or didn’t have) until its gone. For growing organizations, refreshing your internal routines every few months makes sure the way you work is consistent with the current state of affairs. Until you make drastic changes, you won’t know what still makes sense or not.
Skipping a meeting is the quickest way to figure out if it still needs to exist. Did everyone end up catching up over email? Was anyone lost in a sea of confusion for the entire week? Playing it safe is a surefire way to make sure nothing changes.
Replace scheduling with messaging
With email, messaging apps, and project management tools it’s easier than ever to work asynchronously. Meetings break that workflow by getting everyone together regardless of if it’s the best time. If you’ve ever worked in a remote team, this can be even more disruptive, since time zones come into play. We have a developer based in Lithuania, and our morning developer standup is basically his lunch. At that time of day, anything longer than 10 minutes is an unnecessary interruption to his workflow.
Your time is valuable, and the morning is one of the best times to be creative. Give a few of these morning meeting tips a try and you’ll quickly see how much of your day can be reclaimed for the work that really matters. If you find that a morning meeting is a must, then get it on your room calendar. If not, grab your coffee and take on your tasks for the day.