It’s a scenario we’ve all been in – you’re booked in back-to-back meetings all day long. As the day progresses, your inbox bloats and something requires your attention. So, you harmlessly handle it inside a meeting, right? Wrong.
While multi-tasking might solve some of your immediate problems outside of the meeting walls, task switching during meetings can result in missing all or some of the conversation being had. Cascading effects from missing the conversation often include different understandings or conclusions about the topic at hand, decoding the information differently between individuals, and having inconsistency in following through on the actions decided. Plus, according to HBR and Microsoft, managers who send emails during meetings are 2.2 times more likely to have direct reports who do the same.
This notion is only amplified during strategy review meetings and planning sessions. These meetings, be they monthly, quarterly, or annually, are the backbone and feedback loop that drive your organization forward towards achieving your long-term vision of success. So, that operational problem you’re solving in your strategy review meeting might be the distraction that keeps you from focusing on the critical actions that need your focus.
Here are few quick things we’ve implemented in our organization that have helped keep our team focused:
- Create a culture of focus, especially during strategy reviews. Everyone knows meeting times are for meetings. Show up prepared and ready to roll up your sleeves.
- Opt for 45 minutes instead of 60 when possible. We recently started scheduling 45-minute meetings and it has helped keep them precise, on-track, and productive.
- Unless you’re referencing something, keep laptops closed and phones absent or face down. It’s just a good practice in active participation and helps create that culture of focus.
- Create blocked times when you don’t have meetings. We try to do this when possible. Create blocked focus times on your calendar so you (and your team) can get the things that need attention accomplished. Strive to do this a few times a week.
- When you can, use video web conference calls. Video conferencing helps keep everyone engaged, including those who are remote.
We know it’s easy to fall into the trap – we’re guilty of it ourselves. But being self-aware and holding yourself and your organization accountable is just one small step you can take to create a culture of focus.