Survey respondents were asked, "Which one of the following would you say is the worst culprit in terms of wasting the most time?" Their responses were:
- Meetings that last too long - 27%
- Unnecessary interruptions - 26%
- Socializing too much with colleagues - 21%
- Disorganized work area - 21%
- Don't know/no answer - 5%
"Lean staffing levels within many of today's companies have placed increased pressure on employees to manage their time effectively," said Liz Hughes, executive director of OfficeTeam, a leading staffing service specializing in highly skilled administrative professionals. "Unproductive meetings and needless interruptions can cause workers to get behind or log more hours unnecessarily."
Hughes advised workers to be selective with the meetings they attend. "If employees aren't directly involved with the project at hand or they don't have significant contributions to make, they may want to bypass the gathering."
Hughes noted the following "red flags" that can indicate a mismanaged meeting:
- No meeting leader. If no one is in charge of keeping the meeting on track, it could easily go into overtime.
- Lack of objective. The meeting should have a distinct purpose, whether it's to get everyone up to speed on a project or identify a solution to a problem.
- Lengthy invite list. Are you being invited to the meeting because your input is needed or as a courtesy? When the list of attendees is extensive, it's often because the person holding the meeting doesn't want to exclude anyone, not because each employee's participation is necessary.
- It's part of the routine. Regularly scheduled meetings can lose their value over time. Determine if any agenda items pertain to you before agreeing to attend.