We waste hundreds of hours annually in meetings discussing things that could probably be solved with a quick stop at our partner's desk, or a simple office e-mail. Think about the reason you called your last meeting:
- Was the issue you met about something that definitely needed an audience?
- Was there a set time to end the meeting? Did you achieve all your goals and then some?
- Was there a structure to your discussion?
- Did everyone present really need to be there?
If you answered no to any of these questions, you're going about your meetings all wrong. Just like the rest of your day, your meetings need to be structured and serve a solid purpose. Without this, you're going to turn what could have been a 15-minute discussion in your office into an hour-long comment-fest involving way more people and effort than the original issue needed.
When you feel the need to call a meeting, stop and think about what you're doing. Perhaps there's another way to do things:
- Look for alternatives. Can your issue be handled with an email or a quick pow-wow in your office? If so, do it that way rather than a big production in your board room.
- Schedule a solid end time. This way you've got a deadline to work against and you'll be more efficient in the actual meeting.
- List what you need to accomplish. If you have a set list of goals to work on during the meeting, you've got a solid purpose that needs to be accomplished.
- Structure your time. Prioritize the most important issues first, that way if you truly do run out of time, you'll at least have the most important things taken care of.
- Invite only those directly related to the issue. Don't bring in anyone who "might benefit" from the meeting, only bring in those who will solve your problem.
Meetings aren't the only dangers you face when protecting your time. Your time is your most valuable asset and my article explains the other dangers and ways to avoid time-wasters if you want to enjoy the success of your law firm.
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