Escaping Meeting Hell



“You may not be familiar with Parkinson’s Law by name, but chances are you’re well acquainted with the concept. Cyril Parkinson was a British naval historian and author turned public administration and management scholar. His most popular book, Parkinson’s Law: The Pursuit of Progress, was published in 1958. The fundamental ideas that shaped his theories still apply today, and can help guide us as we aim to manage our time more effectively, and conduct better meetings

The “law” is really more of an adage, it goes like this: Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”.*

Meetings are a necessity in most organizations. Meetings can be of great value. They allow a group of people to discuss a problem and work together to find a solution. At their worst meetings are used to impart information that could have been sent in a memo and waste time with idle chit-chat.

Meetings are expensive. If you multiply the number of people attending a meeting by the time used you get some idea of the cost. Ten people in a one hour meeting have spent ten work hours. How many meetings accomplish anything that justifies ten full work hours?

If we applied three simple rules to all meetings they would accomplish more and waste far less time.

1 – Limit the time allowed for all meetings. Establish a clear start time and end time. Enforce those time limits. Do not start late because someone is late. Start on time and end on time.

2 – Create a well thought out agenda for every meeting. Every meeting needs a well-defined purpose. Those attending the meeting should receive the agenda in advance and should be prepared for that agenda.

3 – Keep on track. Unless a meeting is intended for brain-storming the chair should keep the discussion on point and avoid time-wasting digression.

*The quote above is from an article by Gina Belli in In the article Belli tells us a bit about Parkinson’s Law and how to save time, especially in meetings.  Read the rest of the article here.

Learn how to manage your time to achieve more of what you want to do in my book, Effective Time Management.

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.