5 Easy Ways to Make Meetings More Impactful

StrategyDriven Practices for Professionals Article |Impactful Meetings|5 Easy Ways to Make Meetings More ImpactfulOn average, work meetings last anywhere from 31-60 minutes. Theoretically, that means you could either host or attend several of them each day. Unfortunately, all too often, meetings for work end up falling flat. Whether you’re talking about improving your brand strategy, covering data and figures, or trying to come up with safer IT solutions, putting together an effective and motivating meeting can be a big challenge for business owners and managers.

It’s far too easy for employees to ‘tune out’ or contribute their own ideas during a traditional meeting setting. When that happens and those meetings are productive, your company loses money. In fact, it’s estimated that pointless meetings end up costing businesses billions of dollars each year. But, there are things you can do to make your meetings more effective.

By putting more effort into creating motivating meetings, you can see results from your employees and co-workers, rather than a lack of motivation and inspiration. You don’t have to be a great public speaker or try to force any ideas upon anyone. Instead, use some of these strategies in your next meeting to engage your employees, and you’re likely to see the results you’re hoping for.

1. Make Sure the Meeting is Necessary

If you really want to get your employees on board with meetings, make sure they’re absolutely necessary. Far too often, managers and employers hold meetings for things that could be dealt with in more efficient ways. The reality is, more employees would rather get an email about something, or even have a one-on-one conversation rather than attend a long meeting if it doesn’t accomplish anything.

Additionally, meaningless meetings waste your own time. Think about all of the other things you could be accomplishing in your day without so many wasteful meetings. How can you tell if holding a meeting is necessary? Ask yourself the following questions:

Do you need input from a specific team in order to move forward?
Is a meeting the best way to reach everyone at once?
Is it a valuable use of everyone’s time?
Does it have to be done face-to-face?

If you can answer ‘yes’ to all of those questions, then it’s likely the meeting is necessary. If not, try to find ways to work around it, including emails or quick conversations with a few key people. Not only will you save time, but you can get straight to the source of whatever issue is at hand, rather than having to talk about a variety of other things for 30 minutes in order to get to the point.

2. Send a Schedule Ahead of Time

Being organized for your meeting, even before it starts, will help to keep yourself and your employees on track. By sending out an agenda to those involved in the meeting ahead of time, everyone will know what to expect. They’ll be able to prepare themselves for discussion, think about any points they want to bring up, and they’ll know that the meeting itself has a purpose and what you’re trying to accomplish.

Utilizing powerpoint services can help you to even send out slides or images you plan to share in the meeting, as well. This will help to get everyone thinking ahead, so they can bring their ideas into the meeting. As a result, more creative thinking can flow in a shorter amount of time and you may be able to get through your meetings faster and more efficiently.

3. Make Sure Everyone is Involved

Effective meetings shouldn’t just consist of one person talking or explaining everything. While you can start with a presentation and talk about what you’re trying to accomplish, meetings are meant to be collaborative. After all, if you want to be the one doing all the talking and explaining, you could just as easily send out an email.

So, make sure you get everyone involved as a participant in the meeting. This can be especially helpful for people who don’t often speak up or bring up their own ideas. They might have something great simmering under the surface. When you make it known that everyone has to participate and contribute something, they’re more likely to finally come forward with those ideas.

Plus, when everyone gets a chance to participate in a meeting, they’re more likely to feel as though it was productive and not a waste of time. People appreciate having their voices heard, and it can certainly change their perspective on whether something was worth it.

4. Give Specific Tasks

Meetings should end with an action plan in place. Workload delegation is extremely important, not only to help prevent burnout but to make sure the people with the right skills and strengths are handling the right tasks.

By the time the meeting is over, your plan of action should include a specific task for everyone who attended. Decide who is in charge of each task, how long that task will take, and what it will consist of. When people are able to leave a meeting feeling as though they have something to accomplish because of it, they’re less likely to feel as though it was a waste of time.

StrategyDriven Practices for Professionals Article |Impactful Meetings|5 Easy Ways to Make Meetings More Impactful5. Follow Up

Don’t let a meeting on one specific subject just fall away. Follow-up with the people in attendance. Have deadlines in place for the tasks they were assigned, and check-in with them regularly to make sure everything is on track. Again, this will help them to know that the things you talked about within the meeting were worthwhile, and the work they’re putting in on their assigned job is actually important.

Meetings can be useful when they are held for the right reasons and you go through them the right way. If you truly want your work meetings to be more effective, keep some of these tips in mind. When meetings are held the right way, you can motivate your employees and make them understand that meetings can be important, rather than just a waste of time and money for everyone involved.

Forget Balance: How COVID-19 Drives Home the Importance of Work-Life Blending

StrategyDriven Practices for Professionals Article |Work-Life Blending|Forget Balance: How COVID-19 Drives Home the Importance of Work-Life BlendingAs COVID-19 began to move throughout the US, organizations reacted quickly to enable employees to “work from home.” For many leaders, this was a shock and they struggled to effectively adapt their organization to a blended world. The myth of work/life balance was prevalent in many companies as they failed to recognize the trends pointing to increased integration of work and life. The concept of work/life balance, or the separation between work and life, was dealt a huge blow with the outbreak of COVID-19. The novel coronavirus forced leaders of hierarchical, on-site, 9-5 businesses to acknowledge what should have been blatantly obvious: work and home life can no longer be looked at as being balanced but should be viewed as blended.

COVID-19 simply accelerated the trend that has been taking place for years. In my TEDx Talk, Blendification® of Work and Life, I highlight that social, technological, and economic impacts are forcing work and life together. The work/life balance myth has run its course. Here are some observations from the focus on work/life balance:

Work/life balance has become a cover for “look at how hard I am working.” Over the years, I have never heard anyone say, “I need more balance, I am spending way too much time with my family.” More accurately, it is the reverse. People are constantly saying they “need more balance,” which is code for “I am working too hard” or “look at how hard I am working.” They are typically bringing attention to their work ethic as if it is a badge of honor. As a result, work/life balance has turned into a personal proclamation about my strong work ethic at the expense of my personal and family life.

Work/life Balance creates an adversarial relationship between the two. When pursuing work/life balance, an adversarial or competitive relationship becomes prevalent. When this happens, people begin to keep score. It is not uncommon to hear people add up their work hours and become frustrated when they exceed what they consider “balanced.” The pursuit of balance is a futile quest. If you are pursuing your human potential, you cannot separate work and life. You will never achieve equilibrium between the two.

Work and home life do not happen in averages. Life happens in extremes, but we talk about it in averages. As someone once told me: “If I have one foot in a boiling hot bucket of water and the other in ice cold water, the average is fine, but I am not feeling fine!” That describes work and home life. There are constant demands that create the need to be in one area or the other. With fluctuating and conflicting demands, pursuing balance is unrealistic.

While work/life balance has proven to be a myth, blending work and life is more realistic and aligns with social, technological, and economic trends. There are two aspects to consider when blending work and life: the physical and the psychological. Here are some insights into each:

Physical Blending Work and Life

As the novel coronavirus swept the world, companies scrambled to create work-from-home capabilities. As mentioned, this accelerated the trends that were already taking place. Organizations quickly leveraged technology to enable a transition from working in an office to working from home. In some cases, this was done hastily because there were tangible deadlines and corresponding health consequences. As work becomes more integrated physically with homelife, here are ideas that will be helpful going forward:

  • Provide guidance to employees (directional and financial) in setting up dedicated workspace.
  • Make recommendations on boundaries to reduce “interference.”
  • Update policies and procedures with detailed expectations related to working from home.
  • With increased risk of technology and security breaches, make sure you have updated your protection and keep enhancing it since hackers see an opportunity in penetrating our data.
  • Maintain standards in work attire for those participating in online meetings.
  • Create dedicated technology-driven social events.

Psychologically Blending Work and Life

While most of the focus has been on the physical aspects of blending work and life, the true benefits of a blended life are psychological. The millennial generation has opened our eyes to the need to pursue our human potential by positively impacting the world. Given that we spend over 50% of our waking time at work or in work-related activities, we cannot possibly realize our human potential without incorporating work. As a result, the workplace becomes one of the primary areas where people pursue their potential and maximize their impact on society.

What happens at work, happens at home, and this inherent connection is key to creating a better workplace, better homelife, better customers, and better communities. When workplace organizations recognize the importance of growing and developing their employees—not just their job-related skills, but their personal and leadership skills—they will see happier and more fulfilled employees taking pride in their entire life. Here are some points related to developing the psychological aspects of blending work and life:

  • Develop, define, and disseminate your desired culture to make it so compelling and strong that it is alive when employees are working from home.
  • Align your culture with a motivating cause.
  • Create a strategic platform that sets clear strategic focus, outcomes, and actions that are connected to the organization’s culture and cause.
  • Cascade the strategic platform throughout the company through internal peer accountability groups (we call them Roots Groups in The Blendification® System).
  • Institute ongoing training and development around activating your employees’ human potential, leading to greater lifelong fulfillment.
  • Build an ongoing communication and operating system that blends your culture, strategy, and execution, linking employees’ daily work to meaningful outcomes.

The illusion of work/life balance has been revealed with the response to the COVID-19 outbreak. It is time to embrace the trends that have been taking place for years and leverage work to enhance employees’ lives, customers’ lives, and the benefits to their communities. Since COVID-19 accelerated working from home, business leaders now have the opportunity to increase their company’s impact by blending work life and homelife.

About the Author

StrategyDriven Expert Contributor | Dan BruderDan Bruder is the CEO of Fusion Dynamics Group, an international strategy and leadership consulting firm based in Colorado. He has an accomplished background in executive leadership and is a faculty member of Colorado State University’s Executive MBA program and the University of Colorado, Boulder’s Graduate Leeds School of Business. Drawing on his 30-plus years of leadership experience, he created The Blendification® System: Activating Potential by Connecting Culture, Strategy and Execution. The Blendification® System book is available on Amazon as well as through a series of workshops and keynotes. Learn more about The Blendification® System, at www.BlendificationSystem.com

How To Thrive In A Co-Working Space As A Business

StrategyDriven Practices for Professionals Article |Co-working Space|How To Thrive In A Co-Working Space As A BusinessCo-working spaces have certainly become more popular over the years for their affordability and opportunities that it provides for businesses of all sizes. Whether it’s a temporary space in between offices or a permanent one, this is an environment that can work for you. Here are some tips to thrive in a co-working space as a business.

Use All The Features Available

Co-working spaces have a lot of benefits that come with the package you pay for. Depending on the type of co-working space, it will also depend on the number of amazing benefits that can come with your membership and the level of packages that are available. Some of the best ones might include a personal gym for members only, coffee and tea-making facilities, and even a bar. When you’re paying for this space, you might as well to take full advantage of all the features available because it’s a package that is worth utilizing, especially if it can help your business in a variety of ways. Working in a coworking environment certainly has it’s perks and in some cases, can be better than non-serviced buildings.

Network With Those Around You

Networking is a great way of meeting new people, and you can certainly get this when it comes to co-working spaces. There will be lots of people from all different backgrounds, and with these spaces, you usually get a lot of different businesses, start-ups, and individuals. You want to take full advantage of meeting these people and creating connections. You never know how they might be able to help you on your journey as a business. The influence that some might have could be life-changing, so start shaking hands and making small-talk!

Alternate Locations

There is usually a lot of different spaces within a co-working space, and it can certainly be beneficial to alternate between different locations. This can help your productivity, and it’s not something you would always get with a non-serviced building. You’ve got the freedom to go wherever and enjoy different setups whether it’s a sofa with a coffee table or a traditional desk area. It can also be great to do when you’re feeling particularly unmotivated to get anything done that day. Switch it up every couple of days or even every day if you prefer.

Keep The Productivity High For Team Members

Keeping your productivity levels high is important, especially for any team members that you might have who work with you in this co-working space. As much as it can be great for meeting new people, it can also pose as a distraction. Make sure you have a schedule that you can stick to and not deter from too much when it comes to your working day. Taking regular breaks is important, but it’s good to keep to a schedule in order to keep yourself motivated and productive.

A co-working space is definitely something worth considering if you think it’s the right fit for you. Use these tips to help you thrive!

5 Tips To Help Manage Your Finances

StrategyDriven Practices for Professionals Article |Manage Your Finances| 5 Tips To Help Manage Your FinancesManaging your finances can take time and is a process that needs to be carefully planned as spending habits can be hard to break. But with a simple step by step plan and small changes, you can begin to manage your money and become smart with your finances. To help you out, we have compiled a list of five tips to help you manage your finances.

Make A Savings Account

One of the easiest ways to save money is to begin by making a savings account. This is an account that is sperate from your normal account and can be added to and withdrawn from whenever you need to. Several accounts are available that offer you several benefits with your savings and can act as a tool to help you maintain health savings throughout the course of your life.

Set Yourself A Clear Budget

In addition to organising a savings account, it is important to set yourself a clear budget. This can help you to maintain health spending habits and monitor your monthly spend much more closely. By keeping your budget to a suitable amount, you can then begin to place some money into your savings account. This will aid you in becoming financially stable over time. Though this is not the case at all times, monitoring your finances can help you to begin the first steps to being financially stable. Should you still find yourself struggling with poor finances however there are quick easy loans available online to provide financial aid should you need it in a financial emergency?

Track Spending Regularly

When you have set yourself a budget, it is crucial to monitor your spending regularly. By enlisting the help of a finance app or mobile banking, you can monitor spending closely as you go. This is crucial when taking back control of your finances as it is what is needed to prevent overspending. This is updated daily and allows you to see how much you are sending daily and make changes accordingly.

Save Up For Big Spends

Another way that you can manage your finances more effectively is to save. Savings can then be spent when purchasing items such as technology or cars, this will limit the amount that you are borrowing. Though it will be taken longer for you to have these nice things, it allows you to make an informed decision as to whether it is needed or not. This is commonly known as the 30-day rule and is a simple trick that can get you into the frame of mind of saving.

Use Money When Heading Out Shopping

The final way that you can begin to take back control of your finances is to only use money when out shopping. By getting money out and leaving cards at home, you can monitor spending and ensure that you have exactly that you need to have fun without overspending. This is a simple change to your daily routine that could see you saving money in the long term.

As a result of using some of these top tips, you are likely to see your savings build up and notice that you have disposable income at the end of the month to make ends meet. Where will you start with this process?

The Benefits of Time Blocking

StrategyDriven Practices for Professionals Article |Time Blocking|The Benefits of Time BlockingTime is one of the most important factors when it comes to business. Too little of it and you rush, anxiety levels increase, and you can miss vital bits of information. Too much of it and you can overwork your ideas or slip into the world of procrastination.

Managing your time will increase productivity and also help you unwind and relax, giving you a healthier work-life balance. It promotes productivity and is particularly useful for people who work remotely or are separated from their team.

One of the most effective ways of creating efficiency in your days, and reaching project deadlines, is time blocking.

The method really is as simple as it sounds. Unlike a timetable, you set your calendar and tasks into dedicated blocks. You are committing a set amount of time to each task. Colour coding will help you differentiate between projects and personal tasks.

Not only does this help you to structure your day, but it can also help your team understand how you are working and structure their time blocking around you too—giving you maximum team productivity.

Every business, small or large, should make time management the foundation of their working day, learning this simple method is the cornerstone of a more successful and productive atmosphere at work or home.
Does time blocking really work?

The simple answer is yes, even the easily distracted among us benefit from time blocking.

Making To-Do lists is a great start. However, most of us will recognize that a to-do list doesn’t always help us manage our time effectively. There are specific tasks that we know should take a couple of hours, but end up taking a full day because we are distracted or interrupted. We also tend to rush through tasks at the end of the day to ensure we complete them, or forget to reply to emails and lose potential business.

Time blocking for remote workers or sole traders is particularly useful for days you have family members around. If your family can see the blocks of time you have set to work on specific projects, they know not to disturb you, giving uninterrupted hours for you to dedicate to the task set.

If you are part of a team in a busy office, the method can be very effective. Sharing your time blocking calendar enables your colleagues to see your timeline and to avoid disrupting you. It’s like a friendly ‘do not disturb’ sign. It will make the whole project management team more dynamic and effective, giving you a positive pathway to your deadlines.

A team of individuals can be hard to manage on group projects. Every person naturally has a different time in their day when they are least, or most, productive. Establishing these times and creating a team time block will help you to get the most out of all team members, leading you to your deadline and allowing for contingencies too.

An important thing to remember is that time is fluid. You should be able to adapt your time blocking to any unexpected issues that arise in your day. The method makes this simple as you can effectively move blocks around the remaining hours of your day.

What are the main benefits?

When a team leader works out how to manage projects successfully, they often will be working on simultaneous project briefs. With time blocking, you are prioritizing the most critical tasks first.

With extended deadlines and a simple to-do list distractions slip in, and workers may be tempted to help a colleague with something or agree to a meeting with a potential new client. The process of time blocking gives accountability and a mini deadline. There is a clear directive, and everyone understands that certain hours will be dedicated just to one task.

Breaking a to-do list into daily, weekly or even monthly time blocks makes sure that those high priority tasks are completed, and everything else comes second.

When you create your team’s time blocks, always add a contingency into the timing. Tight turnarounds can increase pressure on individuals, and while some may thrive on this, others will crumble. The contingency should be a small amount of extra time in each block; up to 30 minutes is usually a good starter.

Another benefit is with fewer distractions comes efficiency. If you are self-managing a time block, then it’s worth switching off all your communications devices, such as your phone or notifications. Team leaders setting high priority tasks could add this to the time block. Suggesting that during individual blocks that all communication devices are set to ‘do not disturb’ this will give even more focus to ensure projects are completed without distraction.

Time blocking is also an excellent tool for setting realistic timelines. It can be easy to be pressured into quick turnarounds on projects. Still, it is better to underpromise and over deliver on time than it is to pressurize your team or set yourself impossible deadlines. The project manager should utilize the method as part of the pitching process, to enable them to know what is possible.

Saying ‘no’ to people isn’t always easy, mainly if it is an important client asking for a quick favour or one of your bosses calling you into a meeting. Having a dedicated time block allows you to turn down any interruptions that could cause a delay in the project while allowing you to see if you could fit it in during the rest of your day or week.

Finally, it sets our reminders on a deadline too. Many businesses are guilty of not completing a quote or a pitch for new work because live projects are getting in the way. Having an effective time blocking system will help remind you to reach out to new or past clients and ensure your after sales are on point, and you are still attracting new clients and projects.

How do I start time blocking?

It’s pretty simple to get started, especially if you are already an avid to-do lister.

The process should start with a simple list of everything you need to get done. You may find it easier to start with a day, or you might prefer to do a whole week or even a month.

Once you have your list set out, you then need to work out the order of priority, which jobs are most urgent, what order is best to do them in.

It’s then time to look at your working day. This will either be the time you are in an office, or if you work from home, you may decide to set your day up into the most productive times. This depends on your personal circumstances. Some remote workers prefer to work early in the morning or late at night.

The high priority jobs need to be allocated first and should happen when you feel you are at your most productive.

Your time blocking should also include moments in your day for rest, including mealtimes or socialization. A typical working day includes trips to the restroom, cups of tea and periods of exercise, by scheduling these into blocks, you will be more productive on your priority tasks. It can also help to leave one hour free, in case any emergencies or revisions come into your day. You can then move around your blocks. While the method does require commitment, it should also be able to move organically to fit with a realistic schedule.

Once you have set up a rough version of your time block, it’s time to move it onto a calendar. There are lots of different ways you can do this, including making your own and printing it out. Having a hard copy helps us access and stick to our tasks much easier. Setting the alarm on each time block will also help you know when its time to move on to the next project.

When you start to add your tasks to the calendar, use a colour-coded system. It helps to have a theme for personal and for work, then different colour selections for high priority and lower priority.

As you get used to working this method, you may find you complete tasks quicker than expected. If this is the case, you should move all your tasks back. You can use any time you have at the end of the day to complete lower priority tasks or to pat yourself on the back and take a well-earned rest.

The more you use time blocking, the more productive you will become. It may seem a little complicated to begin with; however, once you have formed the habit, you’ll make light work of building your projects into time blocks.

So, if you have been struggling with deadlines or managing multiple projects and people, this method is an excellent foundation for driving your business forward, building new strategies and helping guide your workforce and clients towards a healthier working day.