How to .

Sunday Times - - CAREERS - Mar­garet Har­ris

Stop wast­ing time and money on meet­ings DATA from Stats SA shows that South Africans spend about two hours a day in meet­ings. This would be im­pres­sive if those 120-odd min­utes were pro­duc­tive, but too much of that time is wasted.

Daniel Mar­cus, the CEO of Mag­netic Soft­ware, which pro­vides a process man­age­ment tool for small busi­nesses, says own­ers and man­agers can make meet­ings more pro­duc­tive. “Meet­ings have be­come preva­lent fix­tures in to­day’s or­gan­i­sa­tional cul­ture, par­tic­u­larly within client ser­vice and project-driven busi­ness mod­els. How­ever, when teams are call­ing meet­ings to prep and plan for fu­ture meet­ings, some­thing needs to give.” He has the fol­low­ing ad­vice:

Ev­ery meet­ing must have an agenda, which must be stuck to. “The agenda should be sent out . . . be­fore the meet­ing . . . and con­tain a fi­nite num­ber of items to be dis­cussed and re­solved,” says Mar­cus;

“Parkin­son’s Law . . . sug­gests that work ex­pands to fill the time avail­able for its com­ple­tion. This means that if a full hour has been al­lot­ted to a meet­ing, it is likely to take up the full hour,” says Mar­cus. One way to avoid this is to work out the time you need and then cut five to 10 min­utes. “Dur­ing the meet­ing . . . dis­play a timer for ev­ery­one to see to en­sure agenda points are kept on track and within their al­lot­ted times.”;

Do not in­vite ev­ery­one to ev­ery meet­ing. “The in­clu­sion of un­nec­es­sary . . . at­ten­dees can prove to be a greater dis­trac­tion to those who re­ally need to be there,” says Mar­cus; and

Im­ple­ment a work-flow man­age­ment sys­tem so that “ev­ery project can be ef­fi­ciently mon­i­tored, man­aged and de­liv­ered, elim­i­nat­ing the need for con­stant sta­tus meet­ings”. —

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