Career Testing
Career Testing
Career Testing
WORKPLACE / AUG. 28, 2014
version 8, draft 8

Studies Show Meetings Are Time-Suckers; Three Tips on How-to Avoid Them

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From client to company to division to staff meetings, there’s always some type of “critical” employee gathering scheduled. And from the conference room to the telephone, you are always held hostage for hours listening to someone blab about what they want to do and how they want it done. So you use the long-winded meeting times to plan your weekend or play games on your mobile phone. According to a new survey, you are not alone.

The following are the most boring and unnecessary types of meetings that are held during the workday and three tips on how-to avoid them.

The Annoying Conference Call

All of those stupid meetings are irritating, aren’t they? Don’t you just wish that they would stop wasting your time by scheduling meetings to discuss what to do instead of actually doing it? The greatest offender, according to a new survey, is the conference call.

Intercall, the largest global conference call company, asked over 500 U.S. employees about the topic. Over 60 percent of them, according to Intercall, claimed that they could actually get some work done while on a conference call, while 63 percent admitted checking e-mails instead of listening.

Other employees reported that they were engaged in other activities with over 50 percent eating or cooking food; 47 percent sitting on the toilet; 44 percent texting both related and unrelated business messages; 43 percent checking social media accounts; and 25 percent playing video games. As you can see from the survey results, says Intercall, most conference calls do nothing more but cause a loss in work productivity.

“Part of the problem comes from too many meetings," Rob Bellmar, Intercall’s executive vice president of conferencing and collaboration, told the Harvard Business Review. “This leads people to confuse activity with productivity.” 

And all of the new technological advances such as iPads and smartphones have become enablers, says Intercall. Over 60 percent of the employees interviewed for the survey said they prefer to use their mobile phones for conference calls, which serve as an excuse for employees to check out of the call altogether. According to Intercall, approximately 40 percent of employees revealed how they often lose the calls; but act as if they were present. And over 25 percent said they occasionally dozed off during a conference call. So what’s another type of meeting that is considered a time sucker? 

The Over-Crowded Assembly

At 3:30 p.m., your boss orders everyone to meet in the large conference room, which is never quite large enough. According to the meeting notification, he plans to announce a new development. Instead, he just rambles on and on about the new account, for almost an hour, as you stand in a corner pressed behind over 200 of your co-workers. In the end, the meeting was just another interruption from getting your work done. According to an online survey, conducted by Jive Software, over 15 percent of employees said those types of gatherings, distract workers the most.

“The complaints heard most often about meetings are that they’re often unnecessary, don’t accomplish much and are too long,” said Anita Bruzzese, USA Today contributor contributor and author of 45 Things You Do That Drive Your Boss Crazy ... and How to Avoid Them.

The problem is that by the time you return to your cubicle, the workday is over. As a result, you end up working overtime to get anything accomplished.

Death to Meetings

If you are tired of wasting your entire workday on meetings, it’s time to put an end to the ridiculous get-togethers. The following are three tips on how-to avoid unnecessary meetings:

Manage your Time. The fact of the matter is that most of the meetings held during workday really don’t accomplish anything, but a loss in work productivity.

“And time spent in a meeting should generate a return on investment,” said Carson Tate, a New York Times contributor and the founder of Working Simply, a North Carolina-based management consulting firm. “But how often do we think about our time that way, and set expectations for meetings to produce real returns?”

Your time is valuable. So the next time that you get a meeting notification, ask the organizer to send you an agenda. Use the agenda to decide whether or not you should attend.

Submit Weekly Reports. In most cases, bosses will hold meetings in order to get status updates on the progress of assignments. By emailing your weekly updates to the boss, it may encourage him to ask others on your team to do the same. This in turn will eliminate yet another unnecessary meeting.

Come up with an Excuse. Try telling the organizer that you already have a meeting scheduled. This tip may be a bit dicey and will only work if another co-worker or non-senior level employee is organizing the meeting. If your boss is the organizer, you have no choice but to attend.

There will always be way too many meetings at work. But that doesn’t mean you are required to attend each and every one. By doing so, you will be wasting your own valuable time. In order to remain productive and avoid working after hours, try your best to steer clear of them. And before you accept the next meeting notification, take a moment to decide if it’s essential and if you are required to attend. If the organizer isn’t your boss or a senior-level employee, the answer is probably no. This might upset a few of your co-workers; but in the end, no one can get mad if you are the only one who successfully completes your projects on time.

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