Galvanized by their success at promoting the concept of eliminating corporate email, productivity experts are switching their gaze to another time-waster: meetings.

It’s said that managers spend between 30 to 80 percent of their time in meetings. There are estimated to be more than 11 million business meetings in the US every day, and that most executives attend about 62 meetings every month. CEOs are worse — they spend 85 percent of their time in meetings. Incidentally, 63 percent of meetings don’t have agendas.

Some research, in fact, has found that meetings make you stupid. (And they’re populated by meeting trolls.)

The biggest problem with meetings, writes Luis Suarez — who credits himself with starting the “World Without Email” movement and who is now calling for a “world without meetings” — is that they take your most precious commodity, time, and put it under the control of someone else. In fact, Stephen Fishman goes so far to say that “Forgetting that uninterrupted focus is the critical ingredient to allow work to be completed is the biggest mistake made in Corporate America.”

Consequently, some organizations and executives are tackling the idea of eliminating meetings, or at least making them harder to schedule.

Dudley Dawson suggests creating dummy meetings, which are then cancelled, to give yourself a couple of free hours a day to work. “Corporations are filled with people that have nothing to do but fill their day with meaningless meetings.  It makes them feel as though they are accomplishing something,” he writes. “The problem is that there are other employees that need to actually get work done.”

Similarly, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner schedules  90 to 120 minutes a day of nothing, in 30- to 60-minute blocks, which he calls “buffers.” It’s basically a more sophisticated version of Dawson’s dummy meetings. “Thinking, if done properly, requires uninterrupted focus; thoroughly developing and questioning assumptions; synthesizing all of the data, information and knowledge that's incessantly coming your way; connecting dots, bouncing ideas off of trusted colleagues; and iterating through multiple scenarios,” writes Weiner. “In other words, it takes time. And that time will only be available if you carve it out for yourself.”

On the other hand, Fishman points out that communicating about work and making sure everyone knows what’s going on is not a distraction from work — it is work. So there are times when some meetings may be necessary. Organizations that find they can’t eliminate meetings entirely are doing what they can to make them shorter and more productive — or, at least, uncomfortable.

Here are some tips for making meetings more productive:

The only problem is, if you’re planning to eliminate both email and meetings, how are you going to let everyone know?


Simplicity 2.0 is where we examine the intricate and transitory world of technology—through a Laserfiche lens. By keeping an eye on larger trends, we aim to make software that’s relevant to modern day workers, rather than build technology for technology’s sake.

Subscribe to Simplicity 2.0 and follow us on Twitter. If what we’re saying piques your interest, head over to Laserfiche.com where you’ll see how we apply the lessons learned on Simplicity 2.0 to our own processes, products and industry.

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