I asked seven billionaires to give me their No. 1 piece of advice for productivity and time management. To my surprise, many referenced the evils of meetings, and it was Mark Cuban who told me, "Never take a meeting unless someone is writing you a check."
In his usual witty style, Cuban zeroed in on one of the most common complaints among professionals: meetings get in the way of real productivity.
In a research presented by Atlassian, employees attend an average of 62 meetings per month, with half of those considered to be "time wasted" by participants. In a survey conducted by Microsoft among 38,000 workers in 200 countries, people spend 5.6 hours each week in meetings and 69% of survey participants considered meetings as "not productive."
More and more companies are crafting organizational solutions to the meeting problem, including a ban on meetings one day a week.
- In an interview for my book, Dustin Moskovitz, the cofounder of team productivity app Asana, said they have a policy of "No Meeting Wednesdays."
- Similarly, Kate Kinslow instituted "No Meeting Fridays" when she became CEO of Aria Healthcare.
- In a Fast Company article, Moveline cofounder Kelly Eidson explained how meetings are banned on Tuesdays, which are considered "Maker Days"--the one day a week when people can work wherever they want without having to worry about being accessible to others.
When I mentioned this meeting-free day concept to Rory Vaden, cofounder of Southwestern Consulting, he laughed out loud. "We only have meetings one day a week," he exclaimed.
"Really?" I was incredulous.
"Yes, we have Mad Meeting Mondays!"
As the New York Times bestselling author of Take the Stairs and Procrastinate on Purpose, Vaden knows a thing or two about productivity. I had never heard of a company that packs all their meetings into a single day, so in an email interview I asked him for the details. He replied:
"We've decided that the next generation business is one where people will work flexible hours, from multiple locations, on a variety of projects. So...
"Mondays are the one day we ask everyone to come in. We meet. We talk. We discuss. We make decisions.
"Then the rest of the week we scatter all across the world, we deploy those decisions, and we execute the strategies.
"A meeting to us is defined as a regular recurring gathering of three or more people in the company.
"It's not that you're disallowed to "meet" with people or even groups at other times. It's just that everyone knows that Monday is the official day for meetings. We run an insanely tight ship. Everyone comes to the meetings with a "Rolling Topics list", and we crank.
"For us, this strategy is more out of necessity than trailblazing. We've grown from 25 people to 115 people in three years. We're running and gunning and hustling."
So would you rather have more meetings or fewer meetings? Yes, I thought so.
Southwestern Consulting's four days off from meetings culture may be extreme for most organizations, but it suddenly makes taking one day off from meetings each week seem much more realistic.
If you're a small business owner, or you run a business unit in a larger company, perhaps implementing a meeting free "maker day" is a good idea.
Even if you are a manager of a small team in a large organization but can't control the overall company policy, you could still establish the cultural norm for your own team.
Will you have a one-day off from meetings?
Let me know what you think of this idea in the comments below.