Starting a business is a 24-hour-a-day, seven-days-a-week commitment. You probably feel overwhelmed — that’s not unusual. Part of the problem is allowing time eaters to affect your productivity. One of the biggest time eaters is meaningless meetings.Doesn’t it seem the business world revolves around meetings? You can’t live with them and you can’t live without them. But not all meetings carry the same measure of importance. Nothing saps time and the flow of productivity like a boring, routine, unnecessary meeting. However, when you choose the meetings you’ll attend wisely and manage the time appropriately they can produce benefits for your business. Here are a few guidelines to help you manage your time more efficiently:
- Evaluate the Necessity. A meeting isn’t necessary for every type of business conversation. So before you say “yes,” ask yourself if there is a more expedient yet effective way to accomplish the same goal. Reducing the number of meetings you attend will free-up your schedule to focus on other business needs.
- Check the Attendee List. If a meeting is necessary to accomplish your business goals, make sure the right people are in attendance. In other words, you want decision-makers at the table. Try to limit the number of people involved, too.
- Determine Your Objectives. I’m sure you’ve been to meetings and left wondering what was really accomplished. Make sure you know exactly what your objectives are prior to the meeting. Before you leave, review your list to make certain you have everything you need.
- Establish Time Parameters. Everyone is crazy, busy these days. So make it clear to those involved in the meeting what the time parameters are. If you aren’t running the meeting, then ask the organizer so you can plan accordingly. Be sure to arrive and/or start the meeting on time. Be respectful of everyone’s time.
- Be Prepared. Whether you’re in charge of the meeting or simply attending, make sure you are well prepared, and you have all the materials you’ll need. A lack of preparation wastes everyone’s time and may result in yet another scheduled meeting.
To manage your hectic schedule as a new business owner, I recommend scheduling meetings only on certain days. That gives you time in the office to do the operational work that needs to get done.
As the old saying goes, time is money. Because meetings are an essential part of business today, make sure they are meaningful and productive. The result will be a better bottom line for your business.
Do you have any tips on making meetings more effective?
Susan Wilson Solovic is an award-winning entrepreneur and journalist, author of three best-selling books, multi-media personality and contributor to ABC News and other outlets, public speaker and attorney. AT&T has sponsored this blog post.