Project Practitioners > Help Your Project Team Escape Meeting Hell

Help Your Project Team Escape Meeting Hell

By PMStudent

I spend half my days in meeting about how to get more work done (instead of working)

Meetings.  Meetings.  Meetings.

The end of another week.  I didn't get the design finished like I had wanted to this week.  It just seems like there is so much to do, and so little time!

This has been happening a lot lately.  What is going on here?  Why am I not getting things done?

I decide to review what I did this week....drawing a blank....wait, I did a little programming on one project Tuesday...and I got a few hours into the design I was supposed to finish.  What else?  Time to review the email and calendar to jog my memory.

So, I'm a developer, right?  Why then, did I spend 60% of my week in meetings?

Sound familiar?

Hopefully the 60% was an exaggeration.  This little story illustrates the pain many project team members feel.  As a project manager, it is your job to direct work activities.  One of your responsibilities should be to ensure your team spends exactly as much time as necessary in more, no less.  They've got work to do!

Many people who set up meetings want to be inclusive and not leave anyone out.  You have a right to question the value you can add or receive from attending a meeting if it is not obvious to you.  You have a responsibility to do this for yourself and your team.

So, project managers.  How can we help?  Here are some thoughts:

  • Only schedule a meeting when you have a focused agenda
  • Only invite exactly who needs to be there
  • 15 to 30 minutes is optimal.  Don't schedule hour-long meetings unless you have a darn good reason
  • When others invite you to a meeting require an agenda
  • Don't go to others' meetings unless there is an agenda or regular structure
  • Protect the time of your staff by being aware of the meetings they are invited to and chair
  • When in a meeting stick to the point and focus on the goals not try to solve problems in a status meeting, and don't let the conversation get off topic (whether it's your meeting or not!)
  • Use a war room approach, and avoid bad multi-tasking

Josh Nankivel

Related Links
Where did you spend your time this week? Track your most valuable asset with our Personal Time Management Log so you can answer that question next Friday. If your time is going to meetings that go nowhere, you can get some mileage out of our Sample Team Meeting Agenda. (Examples of several other types of meeting agendas are in our list of communication templates.) If your team is spending a lot of time in meetings, make sure that everyone knows what meetings are required and how often by agreeing on Team Meeting Descriptions.

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