All posts by Hunter Meine

Meetings Should Be Run Effectively To Be A Successful Leader

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meetings should be run effectively

Leadership is shown in a variety of ways and locations. But, the most visible day-to-day expression is frequently how leaders conduct meetings.

The criteria for leadership may not be fair and maybe unduly simple, but the fact remains that excellent leaders conduct good meetings and terrible leaders have awful meetings. Period. It all boils down to who controls your schedule?

While they are not the same, leadership and management are strongly related. Meetings tend to be more about control than leadership, but management and leadership are tightly correlated. Both jobs are complicated and include much more than just gatherings, to be sure.

Most of a leader’s responsibilities occur behind closed doors, away from the confines of a conference room. So when asked whether a manager is an effective leader, it’s not unusual for the reply to take a few moments. But do you consider how that individual conducts meetings in the first place?

Meeting Leader and the Questions to Ask in Advance

Is the meeting leader someone who can organize a productive and efficient meeting? Are they able to keep a meeting interesting? Are the appropriate individuals in attendance? Do folks feel like they have a voice in the meeting? Do they take part in the game? Are you able to complete the agenda? Are you respecting the time of attendees? Is the meeting scheduled to begin and conclude on time? Is the group capable of generating ground-breaking concepts? Did you consider a healthy exchange of ideas and debate? Can the group come to terms with the leader’s efforts and reach a consensus? Is action taken, or are choices made due to the discussion?

The higher one’s position in an organizational structure, the more people are likely to add the meeting to their schedule. So, for example, someone working in the mailroom often has fewer meetings than a mid-level manager. But the CEO, on the other hand, will have more meeting needs than executives higher in the organizational hierarchy. It is what leadership sometimes refers to as their pound of flesh.

Indeed, according to some estimates, managers and executives spend anywhere from a quarter to a half of their time in meetings. Moreover, even at meetings, they are absent from other arrangements because they have been double- or triple-done

Is there an excessive number of meetings taking place inside organizations? Is it possible to limit the number of meetings? Should individuals attend fewer meetings than they now do? Yes, this is true virtually universally across all industries.

There will, however, be meetings as long as organizations can’t find ways to opt-out of them. And they will be led by managers and leaders who employees will evaluate based on how well they conduct themselves in meetings — or let’s get real — the “meeting evaluation” is really about how much power or authority that leader has over the employee.

More Productive Meetings

So, do you advocate for more productive meetings or more excellent skills? The most straightforward argument is to add up the number of hours spent — or squandered for any given task. And, depending on the situation — how much time is spent in meetings and multiply that total by the hourly cost per employee.

Adding together all of these figures always gives astonishing results. Each company may squander millions of dollars each company, and maybe billions of dollars are spent in aggregate. To no one’s surprise, unproductive meetings are one of the most significant sources of time, money, and productivity loss inside businesses. Furthermore, a less apparent but possibly essential indicator to consider is the decline in morale resulting from attending poor meeting sessions.

Although the loss or decline in morale is somewhat perplexing, new managers (let alone experienced ones) receive little training on conducting good meetings. To be sure, this is a symptom of a bigger problem. Leaders promote individuals into new positions without obtaining enough training for the new work in question.

If managers are fortunate enough to get a short training session on the necessity of drafting agendas, that would be lucky. And that’s all; now go out into the world and manage your team, and best of luck.

Significance of Leader Training to Conduct Meetings

Consider the enormous significance of meetings. In terms of time, money, and morale, a close look is warranted, especially when considering the beneficial impact that even basic training can have on employees and leaders. Indeed, businesses should prioritize teaching managers effective meeting management techniques.

What are the long-term benefits of managers being responsible for leading meetings for hours weekly, year after year? What if each event is 30 or 50 percent less productive than the last? That high percentage may seem like negative thinking — but consider how many managers are out there without formal training.

Various other skills are essential to other professions, and learning to conduct meetings and bring value to the table is a learned skill. Up-skilling for this job saves time, effort, and money. Considering that bookkeeping and code writing are carefully cultivated and developed through many years of education and training, you can see it makes more sense that managers shouldn’t be left to fend for themselves. This is true with all critical aspects of their jobs, including meetings.

As for managers, whether new or with experience, if your firm does not train for meeting skills, your company’s investment in top management and leader may not return the benefits you are hoping for.

Image Credit: Elevate Digital; Pexels; Thanks!

Meetings Should Be Run Effectively To Be A Successful Leader was originally published on Calendar by Hunter Meine.

A Meeting Checklist Helps You Decide if a Session is Needed

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meeting checklist

If you must have a meeting and it only needs to be about ten minutes, don’t get everyone together — utilize video conferencing rather than meeting in person or voice alone. In this way, your on-site employees and the remote team can quickly get the information needed in a timely manner.

More than half of on-site employees aspire to work remotely in the future, so you may as well practice this way of meeting now. Video conferencing reduces meeting time, enhances productivity, and fosters employee relationships. It’s a well-known fact that on-site or off-site — unproductive meetings tend to lead to disengaged personnel.

To prevent a slash to your team’s productivity — utilize this checklist to assess the necessity of any meeting (maybe a quick email will work just fine). Here are a few guidelines.

Checklist for Meetings

  • Is the issue urgent?
  • Are you searching for dialogue or deliverables?
  • Who is the designated accountable person for my task?
  • How many ideas do I need assistance brainstorming?
  • Are we meeting to discuss a new concept or project?
  • What is my optimal outcome?

How frequently do we require status updates if this is a reoccurring meeting?

  • Is there time to prepare?
  • Is everyone I’m inviting required?
  • What is each person’s function in this meeting?
  • Can we meet through video call?
  • How long should we meet?
  • Is the plan clear?
  • Is the conference room AV ready?
  • Do we need this meeting now, or can it wait?

If you’re unsure, check this list before sending out calendar invitations.

1. Is the issue urgent?

This is the first question to ask yourself. If you need to communicate, quickly consider Slack or Microsoft Teams. You can brief critical decision-makers and leaders and determine if you need to meet at all, or whether other team members should be consulted first.

In short, if you have an urgent problem that demands feedback from other team members, you’ll need to meet. But make sure you alert others quickly.

2. Do I want a dialogue or deliverables?

Before sending out calendar invites, think about the sort of meeting you want to have. As hybrid work becomes the norm, more distant employees may wish to meet in person. Meetings lower remote employees’ productivity by 1.8 times more than on-site workers, so be mindful of other schedules. Also, be aware of your remote employees’ time so they can attend on-site if needed. Last-minute meetings tend to leave your remote employees out or unprepared.

If you want your core team to share ideas, you’ll need to convene a meeting.

A meeting may not be necessary if you only need to collaborate on a project or examine other team members’ work. Remind the team of deadlines and ask for comments or contributions to shared team papers instead. Google Drive and Dropbox Paper are valuable platforms for receiving team input and modifications. Instead of scheduling a meeting, use emails or instant messages to remind people.

If tasks can be completed offline — do it. You may then meet in person or over a video to discuss the project’s progress at a later date with new ideas.

3. Who is the designated accountable person for my task?

Before arranging the meeting, ask yourself this question. If you’re in charge of a project, prepare a list of requirements before meeting with your team. Once you’ve finished your list, book your meeting.

You shouldn’t be planning the meeting unless you are the accountable person. Instead, contact the project manager to assist with any deliverables.

4. How many ideas do I need assistance brainstorming?

Having other minds in the room is always more enticing when brainstorming for a project. A meeting isn’t always required merely because you want assistance creating fresh ideas.

Save brainstorming sessions for when you need a lot of feedback from others before starting a project. Hold a virtual brainstorm for tiny ideas like blog post names or social media themes. Create a shared document and invite team members to contribute.

It’s worth holding a meeting or conference to discuss large-scale campaigns or initiatives.

5. Are we meeting to discuss a new concept or project?

Project kickoff conferences are vital to the collaborative process. It’s critical to set aside time to discuss roles, objectives, and timelines required by the group to launch a program.

Try alternating check-ins with meetings and virtual cooperation if the project has already begun.

Instead of a weekly status report meeting, try bi-monthly status reports with virtual stand-ups through Slack or email.

6. How frequently do we require progress updates if this is a recurrent meeting?

If you’re planning a recurrent meeting, consider adding virtual aspects. For example, host a weekly status update over Slack to save time if you require a weekly status update.

7. Is there enough time to prepare?

productive meeting requires preparation. Preparation for specific endeavors, like brainstorming, is minimal. Recurring sessions generally need additional planning.

Once you know the conference type, you may assess your team’s availability and choose a date. Just because you’re ready doesn’t guarantee your colleagues are prepared with their work at the same time. Everyone should have their tasks complete by the slated dates — and your weekly update should that progress. You will want to announce larger tasks a day ahead of time so that everyone can prepare.

Check team members’ calendars to see whether they’re available. Finally, ask your team how they can prevent missing events. Once they affirm, you’re ready to go on.

8. Do I need to invite everyone?

Jeff Bezos and most business executives believe that the most productive sessions include eight people and the two pizza rule. Your invitees may invite additional team members but limit the core group to avoid unnecessary conversation.

9. What is each person’s function in this meeting?

Once you’ve decided who to invite, it’s essential to know what each individual can contribute to the table. If the meeting needs specific data or insights, appoint a suitable participant to bring it. Again, you’ll save time by concentrating on the current debate and not waiting for others to find information.

Assign jobs like facilitator or note-taker ahead of time. You’ll learn to manage your time better and see ahead.

10. Can the meeting be done through video call?

In many circumstances, the answer is “yes.” Video conferences allow distant participants to join in on the discussion and record for those who couldn’t attend. In addition, video conference sessions are quicker than audio-only meetings, making them more productive and inclusive.

11. When shall we meet again?

When scheduling conferences, consider others’ time. Most meetings shouldn’t last longer than about 30 minutes. If you’re planning a lengthy schedule, consider booking an hour-long meeting. First, however, you should review your plan to see how long these talks will take.

Set the session timer for 30 minutes and only 45 or 60 minutes if the agenda items are closely connected. Longer meetings can cover a wide range of duties, which may confuse attendees. Better to have one topic or a better checklist for longer meetings.

It’s preferable to schedule two shorter meetings than one big one. Remember to use our checklist before arranging the second meeting.

12. Is the plan clear?

Nothing is worse than an unprepared leader. Agendas provided in advance help attendees prepare constructive contributions. Making a plan also helps you clarify your ideas regarding the project.

13. Is the conference room A/V ready?

Last but not least, ensure the conference place is ready to go. Use our AV checklist to ensure the room you’re using is ready for video conference immediately. Fifty-nine percent of remote employees say IT difficulties hinder meetings. Yet, remote employees depend on these technologies to properly join the team.

More efficient sessions save time and money. Meetings in the last year cost U.S. businesses $37 billion. You don’t want your business to add extra dollars to this tally for your annual conference expenses. Find out more about meeting costs and the most OK video conferencing camera for your conference location. So clear your calendar.

Image Credit: Christina Morillo; Pexels; Thank you!

Meeting Checklist Helps You Decide if a Session is Needed was originally published on Calendar by Hunter Meine.

How to Schedule Remote and Office Work

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office working

Many of us have become used to working in hybrid work environments– whether it be in-office work or remote work– and also balancing personal life. Companies are focused on returning employees to work and many have worked through the challenges of the remote “era.”

Some companies have taken an approach of “okay, we went easy on you during covid — but now it’s time to get back to the office.” After the epidemic, just 46% of firms would accept remote work. Others have returned to the office or embraced a hybrid paradigm that allows remote and in-office work.

Companies and employees know how to work from the office and everyone learned how to shift and work remotely during the pandemic — but may still struggle with the hybrid approach and there’s no need to worry. Just learn how to do the hybrid work better.

Obtain the best of both worlds and utilize the hybrid work option

Desire the convenience of working remotely with the benefits of visiting your coworkers for the best results.

How to explain your option of a mixed schedule

For a hybrid work model to function for your organization and workers, it must be planned and purposeful.

Begin by choosing a model that fits your business. You may not get it right at first but choose one. The cohort schedule is arguably the simplest. You can build on this schedule after you know what works for you and your company.

Don’t apply a remote and office work hybrid schedule randomly

Introduce a one-day policy or a WFH policy. You may tweak and develop your model over time. It’s also wise to test your hybrid model on a small group of individuals before rolling it out to the whole company.

Record your work habits and that of your team. You may think of it as your company’s hybrid work manifesto. For example, is it simpler to brief everyone in writing, over Slack, or in a once-a-week, face-to-face meeting over Zoom< How will you handle something like onboarding new personnel?

Finally, choose the tools you will use to manage your varied work schedule. Therefore, apart from communication platforms (like Slack), you’ll need project management and reporting tools to guarantee everyone is on the same page.

Scheduling Remote Workers, Hybrid Employees, and Office Work Best Practices

If you’re ready to start using hybrid work in your workplace, some helpful habits, tools, and strategies are everywhere for you to take advantage of. You’ll want to manage hybrid work gaps — from policies to documentation, continuing education, and the specific tools you will all use consistently.

Here are a few notable areas to check for your hybrid employees.

1. Define KPIs

KPIs are your key performance indicators and the best way to see your staff’s effectiveness. For example, sales calls, articles created, and support tickets resolved will be some of your KPIs from the past that will still be relevant.

2. Adequate tools — still a must

Using platforms like Slack or Zoom to interact with your team is easy. Starting with Google Workspace is an excellent start, but it has limits. The best technologies allow your employees to operate productively and collaboratively from home. Yes, you may have to kiss a few frogs (as they say), but ask for suggestions from your team. And maybe the communication method you’ve always used with remote issues is fine. But check it out.

3. Set up schedules (and stick to them)

If you use a cohort or staggered schedule, have everything in writing and it to your online team calendar. However, understand that your staff will know exactly when and where they will be working — so ask them. As a manager, set an example — let your team know where you are and ensure that you keep to your timetable, or let someone know.

4. Decide how and when to communicate

Many hybrid and remote businesses use asynchronous communication, where workers respond to contacts when they are available. This is only one form of communication, so ensure there is a document where everything is written down and employees can refer back to it.

Determine the appropriate and type of communication for your requirements. You can use Zoom for customer-facing conversations and Slack for internal business calls. You can also send emails or put messages in your project management application.

Avoidable errors in your remote schedules and office work requirements

Rethinking your workplace has its own set of issues. Here are some frequent pitfalls to avoid while implementing or improving a remote-hybrid model.

Schedules may boost productivity, cooperation, and teamwork even while working out the issues associated with such implementations.

1. Not everyone follows the same rules — big rule breaker

When creating a hybrid schedule, one rule must apply to everybody.

It’s disheartening to work in an office 3–5 days a week while senior management works remotely full time. Therefore, all workers must follow the same rules to maintain a fair game where everyone wins.

2. Using outdated productivity tracking techniques

Monitoring employee productivity via invasive time-tracking or screen-recording equipment is obsolete. Understand that your employees will not only feel betrayed by your invasive behavior — but over-monitoring will hamper their productivity and career advancement.

3. Forgetting it — a huge error

Your model’s effectiveness requires constant innovation in hybrid methods and procedures. Include and fairly treat all members of your team. Monitor their reactions to the new structure. Your workers should not feel unjustly treated or that you favor a particular team. Create a timetable that meets each employee’s demands.

4. Offering possibilities based on hybrid workplace presence

Depending on how your employees live, some individuals can afford to be more present at work. Others, like parents or caregivers, cannot come as frequently. Therefore, as long as everyone does their job effectively and on schedule, everyone should develop their own career path. Never penalize individuals because they cannot be in the workplace more since this defeats the objective of a hybrid model and timetable.

5. Managing schedules

Companies let managers lead the way when experimenting with flexible work options. Many of them forced their staff into the workplace for no understandable reason and the timetable disappointed these employees.

If you have just implemented a hybrid model — don’t micromanage your staff. Micromanaging from a company or employer  can be so difficult that employees will resign. Make your company rules and follow them. And use scheduling apps whenever possible.

6. Breaking destructive behaviors with no information

Breaking destructive behaviors requires patience. But if you use such tools with your staff the hybrid schedules will begin to work well for you. Don’t make the mistake of just replacing workers who want to try a hybrid schedule.

Conclusion

You’ll have the temptation to resume office meetings if you partly enable staff to work from home. It’s crucial to include everyone, including those who still work remotely.

But seriously — squelch your fist-in-hand tendencies to keep control of everything in your company and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much more productivity you see — along with heightened well-being in your team.

Image credit: Andrea Piacquadio; Pexels; Thanks!

How to Schedule Remote and Office Work was originally published on Calendar by .

When Time Management Can’t Help

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When Time Management Can't Help

The concept of time management is often misunderstood and generally unsuccessful in minimizing overload and stress. Although the emphasis on efficiency is admirable — true overload is self-defeating and futile.

Initiate clear time guidelines for selecting what types of activities you won’t do, and develop processes like establishing a day when managers conduct no meetings. There is a zen to taming time, not confronting it.

Remember, there is no such thing as time in the metaverse.

The persistent sensation that there is never enough time causes much stress. We do need to learn time management to tame and manage our time. We aim to convert hour-long sessions into half-hour sprints or schedule more minor activities to reduce wasted time.

But we want to use time management as a stress reducer — not an anxiety producer. As we improve our efficiency, we may add more duties and begin to feel a more significant strain. Attack the core causes of worldly stressors: the sheer amount of work, choices, and diversions.

But time management should be used to reduce stress by freeing up time to take care of yourself. Maybe get to the gym, take a walk or have a massage. Think time management for freedom — not time management as a whip.

Time Management’s Trap

The shift to remote work after the Covid-19 epidemic created a fascinating natural experiment illustrating the time management problem. Working from home saves time (commuting and business travel), and approximately half of remote employees say they are more productive.

A study by Atlassian found that self-reported time savings and productivity increases are ineffective. The average workday has grown by 30 minutes worldwide — the reverse of results from individuals spending their time more efficiently. Complicating matters, the extra 30 minutes of work have mostly come at the price of evening leisure time.

Time management assures us that we can easily accommodate all of our tasks by being more efficient. But, like digging a hole at the beach, time management requires a lot of water to fill it. An hour on your schedule is like a signal flare proclaiming your ability to take on another project or position. So keep thinking about your ability to now claim the freedom to take care of yourself.

Time management has never been useless—productivity matters. But in a society plagued by burnout, we need techniques to reduce the anxiety producers rather than accommodate the volume.

You will want these three options to escape the trap.

1. Reduce task volume

“I’ll handle the budget update for next week’s meeting,” “I’ll pick up something for supper on the way home,” and so on.

As soon as you agree to take on an extra task — the pressure to deliver starts. Any agreement to be broken or renegotiated adds stress and guilt to the situation. The way you hold the line depends on whether your to-do list grows from assigned duties. Or does it grow things you choose to take on?

Prioritize tasks instead of time. When a supervisor asks you to accomplish something, answering with “I don’t have time for that” may seem overly abrupt. Instead, ask, “Where should I prioritize this task versus x, y, and z?” Answering in this manner achieves two goals. In the first place — this gives your superior a glimpse of what you’re working on — and sometimes lets you off the hook. Nevertheless — they set the priority, not you.

2. Reframe the dialogue from a binary option to a collaborative debate

If you want to add tasks, calendar-block first. We typically overestimate our capabilities, leading to over-exertion. Our calendars show some daylight, so we believe, “I can certainly do this by Friday.”

Then comes Friday, and we have to renegotiate.

Best advice — get your self-care actions and family obligation on your Calendar first. If others are synced to your Calendar, and you don’t want them to see your plans, frame the verbiage differently.

My weekly massage appointment says, “On point meeting with Sarah H.” I do combine the massage time with my lunch hour and pound a boiled egg down on the drive over. The point is, we’re not trying to get out of our intense, crowded, stressful work — we come back refreshed and work harder and faster. Putting in time for yourself makes it so that you don’t resent the extra half hour, hour, or longer you stay after work.

The issue is that your Calendar typically only displays synchronous work (tasks you compete with others simultaneously). Then you include meetings, phone calls, etc. Your to-dos are a list of agreements with others for asynchronous labor (tasks you do alone, not in real-time with others).

The answer? Merge your Calendar and to-do list by scheduling time for each task. Getting the complete picture of your obligations (and self-care) allows you to assess your capabilities before taking on more.

3. Decide on principles

We’ve spent the last couple of years making decisions: Do I send my kids to school? Can I visit them? Is it safe to go to work? Constantly facing difficult decisions with limited information can lead to cognitive overload. The overthinking and unknowns in cognitive overload are where mental work demands outpace our coping ability. Cognitive overload raises the chance of mistakes and leads to feelings of overwhelm.

You might start by replacing choices with absolute principles. For example, the science of weight loss management teaches us that “I won’t eat after 7 p.m.” is more successful than “I won’t nibble after 7 p.m.”

Can I have this cup of yogurt? How about some fruit?

The ultimate guideline of no eating after 7 p.m. closes the door. The choices vanish — the result is less overload.

Author and podcaster Tim Ferriss calls the overload scenario “finding the one option that eliminates 100 decision.” Ferriss set a goal of not reading any new books in 2020 — he would finish the ones he’d started. Since writers and their publicists bombarded him with dozens of new or impending books every week, this blanket principle relieved him of hundreds of book-by-book choices.

Steve Jobs famously wore the same thing (a black t-shirt and jeans) every day to avoid morning clothing selection weariness. Jon Mackey is a managing director of a Canadian business. He built his establishment with “No meetings on Fridays.” After failing to safeguard time for serious work by choosing which meetings to accept or refuse, Jon Mackey devised a weekly concentration day.

4. Minimize Distractions with Structure Not Will

Diversions prevent us from completing activities and making critical judgments. Interruptions contribute to overwhelming by preventing us from feeling like we are making headway against the causes of the pressure.

Trying to ignore digital platforms with fortitude puts you up against an army of our generation’s brightest brains. These most brilliant brains focus on exploiting what Facebook founder Sean Parker calls “vulnerabilities in human psychology” to grab your attention. When it comes to distraction, structure always wins.

Several company executives set aside time throughout the day to switch off their laptop’s Wi-Fi to concentrate. Others have scheduled 30-minute meetings for their staff to ask questions and obtain guidance. Then fewer individuals ask, “Can I grab you for five minutes?”

Cathy Engelbert, past Deloitte CEO, banned back-to-back conferences. So instead, it was a 10-minute break for SMORs or tiny minutes of reflection. This fast recovery break meant she wasn’t distracted by the following meeting or carrying over the previous meeting’s agenda.

Conclusion

The answer isn’t to become more efficient and just accept more work, choices, and diversions. Instead, reduce your workload, make choices based on principles, and create a structure to prevent distractions.

Have your new mantra be, Simplify, and make your time management choices reflect a renewed determination to take care of yourself, your loved ones, and your life.

When Time Management Can’t Help was originally published on Calendar by Hunter Meine.

Image Credit: Tara Winstead; Pexels; Thank you!

Ways to Have Some Fun While in Virtual Meetings

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Ways to Have Fun Virtual Meetings

Virtual meetings have become a weekly or even daily affair for many professionals as firms have transitioned to entirely or partly remote work arrangements in the past several years. These hybrid virtual meetings bother some employees, but you may as well lighten up and have some fun. You can remain professional while you have fun in a virtual meeting.

While virtual meetings are a crucial method to keep communication lines open, they may be difficult for people who are not used to appearing and speaking on video. Furthermore, everything from technical difficulties to the increasing problem of “reading the room” can lead to stiffness and formality in proceedings — making it difficult to inject the personal interactions and “little bit of fun” that make in-person meetings so beneficial for relationship-building.

Remote meetings can be made less formal and more engaging for attendees using the following components. The most essential element of our meetings is not to get to business and not waste time — so keep that fact in mind as you plan to lighten the mood of virtual meetings. Try a few different variations of the themes below and find the best fit for your team.

1. Begin with some one-on-one conversation.

One firm decided to make it a practice to begin each meeting with some personal banter — meaning, nothing work-related. Not having continual work topics at the beginning of the meetings helps employees unwind, share an intriguing anecdote or two, and maybe even chuckle. Casual conversation is stimulating and refreshing and it helps attendees to slip in a few minutes of humanity before getting down to business. Touching base as humans, and not simply coworkers will bring warmth to virtual meetings.

2. Post photographs that are irrelevant to your job.

Request that team members contribute a non-work-related picture. Whether it’s a photo of a pastime, family, or pet, it helps team members to see another side of their colleagues’ personalities. Indeed, it may help each person relate to and understand each other better. Showing a photo will also create a comfortable environment for team members to be open and honest since they choose what to share. Transparency, in turn, aids in the development of connections.

When you first start showing photos you will notice that are bland. With the continual practice of showing photos, your employees will warm up to you and each other, and you will notice a change in the nature of the photos.

3. Show off your pets.

Do you have a lot of pet owners in your workplace? When you host a meeting in the future, start by having everyone introduce their furry companions. It’s a terrific way to bond with your team, and it always results in a grin. We’ve always had the ability to bring our pets to work in the office — and a photo of the furry friends brings back these memories and good times.

4. Pose a virtual meeting “connection inquiry.”

Before the meeting, connect with individuals by asking “connection questions” that bring everyone together. Ask everyone to tell a story around a common theme (give them a time limit). People like talking about themselves and sharing information about themselves.

5. Honor birthdays.

One office manager noted, “We celebrate one other’s birthdays by sending something special (usually food-related) on that day or week of the birthday — and having a sing-a-long song. It is consistently well-received. We spend the remainder of the catch-up time talking about things other than work, which is refreshing and vital.                             

After your sing-along and chat, you can dive into work information and topics.

6. Experiment with different backgrounds.

Getting creative with your video backdrop is one way to add extra fun and boost relationship-building in virtual meetings. A new subject for each meeting, such as a favorite location visited or a bucket list trip destination may help break up the monotony of the day. Indeed, act as a meeting icebreaker, and allow for more in-depth relationships among team members. These change-ups don’t have to take a ton of time.

7. Play around with virtual reality.

Another office manager said, “We experimented with virtual reality, and the results were unexpected. We had meetings, played games, and even attended Virtual Burning Man as a group. The experiences of being in the same place are pretty effective in forming relationships. This is subconscious and highly ancient: but it means we belong to the same tribe.”

8. Hold virtual meetings coffee and lunch get-togethers.

Virtual coffee or lunch meetings with two to four team members may benefit relationship development. Center the plan on connecting rather than addressing work matters. These ties often result in better professional partnerships. Do you allow anyone on your team to do virtual meetings invites? For casual get-togethers — consider allowing others on the team to be the host.

9. Include a ‘human’ aspect.

Adding a “human” factor to virtual meetings is one approach to make them more enjoyable. You can hold video meetings at workers’ homes. Moreover, this is something that is physically left behind while working from the office. Use meetings hosted at individual team member homes to your advantage by asking “about me” questions. Or you could engage in scavenger hunts. Indeed come up with other innovative methods to engage people. It’s the small things that count.

10. Hold competitions and happy hours.

Make meetings more enjoyable by hosting virtual happy hours or competitions, such as “Best Zoom Background” or “Best Home Office.” The distinction between home and workplace has blurred, so have fun with it. During Zoom meetings, we get to meet family members and pets. We’ve moved the office into the houses where we live. Working connections have grown more casual as a result of this new phenomenon. On a personal level, people have reported that they are feeling more connected.

11. Assign various team members to serve as virtual meeting hosts.

Building camaraderie isn’t intricate in theory, but it does need work. Try having various members of your team host. This encourages involvement and introduces fresh ideas to the discussion. Utilize internet games on occasion. Encourage members to give each other informal acknowledgment at the start or finish of each meeting. Most importantly, don’t take anything too seriously. It’s simply a gathering. And sometimes, as a leader — you should let your team have meetings without you.

12. Allow everyone a turn in the spotlight.

When there are a lot of workers in the virtual meetings, strive to close the sessions with activities that give each employee a chance to shine. One amusing example is ending meetings with newborn images of staff. Indeed, asking everyone to vote on who that baby grew up to be.

Image Credit: Ivan Samkov; Pexels; Thank you!

Ways to Have Some Fun While in Virtual Meetings was originally published on Calendar by Hunter Meine.

6 Ways to Make Your Meetings More Productive

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Stay productive

Organizations must improve their ability to have productive meetings to become more successful. How can managers help bring meetings with a better outcome?

Meetings take up a lot of our time at work, but how much do they truly accomplish? According to Korn Ferry’s study, meetings rarely do what we set out to accomplish. Furthermore, more than two-thirds (67%) of employees report that spending too much time in meetings and on phone conversations prevented them from having an effective workday.

Organizations must improve their ability to have productive meetings to become more successful. This topic has been of much interest in the last few years. Are we getting better with our meetings and making them produce what we set out to create? So, what can leaders and managers do to help bring about better meeting results?

The Front Stage Meetings

1. Think of the meeting as the ‘front stage,’ and prepare for them by working hard on the ‘backstage.’ And don’t ignore the priorities.

“While many meetings are routine,” says Dr. Shameen Prashantham, professor of international business and strategy at China Europe International Business School and author of Gorillas Can Dance, “others feel there should still be an improvement to meetings on every level.”

2. Give yourself time to “check-in.”

We never start a meeting without ‘checking in,’ says Fiona Logan, CEO of Insights, a worldwide people development firm. Checking in with each person briefly enables participants to completely participate by discussing what’s on their minds, how they’re feeling, or what they want to gain from the meeting. Then the meeting becomes a time management situation.

Checking in, according to Logan, helps individuals understand and empathize with their colleagues, fostering connection and trust. It also allows them to change their mentality from before the meeting to where they need to be during the session.

“This promotes participant participation, which typically leads to a happy and effective meeting,” she explains. Logan also suggests scheduling 45-minute meetings instead of hour-long sessions since it keeps everyone engaged for the length of the discussion.

Productive Focus

3. Focus on results rather than updates even when considering your new software or scheduling apps.

Suppose executives evaluate the expense of bringing their colleagues together for the conference. Some believe that meetings must provide at least twice as much value as they used to. Prepare by thinking about outputs, not updates, the next time you chair a meeting and make it as output-oriented as possible so that everyone arrives at the table with their thinking hat on and not their dinner plans.

4. Distribute reports ahead of time.

“Don’t waste meeting time presenting papers,” urges Annelise Ly, an associate professor at the Norwegian School of Economics and a CEMS Global Alliance in Management Education member. Instead, ask your partners to read information ahead of time and go right into the topic when you meet. The direct approach keeps people interested and cuts down on meeting time.

5. Take command of the discussion. Know when time is being wasted.

“Deep discussion and disagreement in meetings is a critical trait for creating innovation and ensuring that teams will grow and prosper,” says David Liddle, CEO of TCM and author of Transformational Culture. However, he cautions that heated debate may quickly devolve into something harmful and dysfunctional.

Managers can no longer afford to sit back and let the argument evolve. Instead, a manager needs to lead by taking on the role of facilitator. Liddle contends that providing safe places where open, honest debate can take place, and a variety of views can be put forth, leads to better team acceptance and fosters a tighter-knit group.

“Helping our people to disagree constructively,” says Liddle, “is the goal of healthy discussion.”

6. When gathering electronically, plan and speak in short spurts.

Everyone has had ‘Zoom fatigue,” says one prominent doctor of business, Dr. Amanda Nimon-Peters of Hult International Business School in the United Kingdom. Dr. Nimon-Peters is also the author of the forthcoming book Working With Influence. She continues, “That’s because, when we stupidly approach virtual meetings as if they were real meetings, they become tiresome and unpleasant.”

While our technology has advanced to allow for distant meetings, Nimon-Peters points out that our minds have not.
We suffer subconscious discomfort because of a perceived closeness that the simulated distance between video conference participants.

Successful online teams, according to Nimon-Peters, interact in bursts rather than in back-to-back, conference-length conversations. Participants must also plan ahead of time to make their time together as productive and interesting as possible.

Are all Meetings Poppycock?

Not at all. No meeting has to be futile or pointless. The key is to get to the main points of the meeting and get to it first. Be prepared ahead of time and never hesitate to redirect the conversation.

If things are not going as planned — don’t be afraid to close one door and open another — one that’s more productive. Don’t facilitate the time wasters, over-talkers, or indecisive ones. Instead, come with a plan, execute that plan — then leave on time.

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Six Ways to Make Your Meetings More Productive was originally published on Calendar by Hunter Meine.

4 Recommendations for Teams in 2022

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Recommendations Teams 2022

The mixed work model will likely be commonplace throughout 2022 and well into the future, so we may as well get used to it and learn to do it well. Consider these suggestions to help you create a great mixed-team work approach.

COVID brought on the full-hybrid work model, and as long as it continues to work well, it will likely be the work model forever. Teams will experience growing pains until hybrid work can work out the kinks and become the norm. While no one technique works for all individuals, positions, or projects — consider these suggestions. Creating a productivity schedule is crucial.

Develop the hybrid work model with your company.

There is no one-size-fits-all hybrid work paradigm; it must match your organization’s culture and personnel. The key to success is co-creating that model with your team and providing communication avenues and expectations.

Avoid making top-down judgments with your hybrid worker without consulting a few team members. All decisions, no matter how small, immediately affect your employees. Ask about employee preferences and attempt to fulfill them. Take time to listen to individual needs so that discontent and anger don’t erode your culture and morale.

1. Agree on the office’s role in the hybrid environment.

Consider which structures work best for your team. Take care of your workers, and they will care for your consumers. Popular hybrid work arrangements include remote-first with office days or office-first with remote days. Some firms only meet in person once a month — but your very individual business needs will have to dictate many of your decisions.

Agree on the office’s role in the hybrid environment. Is it to encourage cooperation or relationships? Collect everyone’s ideas and don’t simply go back to work because that’s what you used to do. Alternatives to your enormous, unoccupied workplace may also benefit your yearly budget.

2. Trust your staff

Let people work in ways that make them happy and productive.

Set goals and deadlines for your team instead of time monitoring. It’s challenging to be productive and present when working remotely. However, measures should not be considered a punishment but a tool to help personnel achieve their objectives.

Most employees don’t work the eight hours they’re at the office because they have spontaneous meetings and strong connections with coworkers. Consider: managers should ignore time as a productivity indicator and trust staff to accomplish their jobs well. Time as an indicator is a sign that the objectives are too simple and that the workers are distant since they don’t need to cooperate as much or “look busy.”

Otherwise, you risk the “watermelon effect” — excellent “green” performance, but a significant chunk of red underneath the surface, representing an awful employee experience. Employees may address issues with coworkers rather than management at the (virtual) water cooler.

3. Meetings: rethink

Don’t be a victim of your success.

We need to discover new working methods to not spend all our time in meetings and our weekends and nights on “serious work.” So we need more asynchronous work.

Adopt a facilitator’s approach to developing new working ways — concentrate on understanding human interactions and structuring work to fit them best.

Asking check-in and check-out questions helps to keep meetings sociable. Having off-topic talks and connecting with people is vital.

4. Foster connections and interactions

Consider alternatives like walk & talks, virtual coworking, music quizzes, open office hours, and buddy systems.

During their initial weeks or months at the organization, a “work buddy” meets with new workers one-on-one to facilitate a seamless transition.

This allows for knowledge exchange and learning even while working remotely. Younger workers who rely on senior staff for information appreciate this exchange.

Encourage your staff to plan walking meetings or catch-ups with one other. Walk & Talks help you exercise and interact with others. Plus, they help alleviate our collective Zoom fatigue.

Leaders and workers may add open (virtual) office hours to their calendars or status bars to encourage more spontaneous talks. During specific time windows, anybody may phone that individual to bounce ideas off, discuss a problem, or check in.

Virtual coworking allows people to work together yet on their projects. A group video conference is great for collaborating on separate tasks. People feel more accountable and productive when cameras and microphones are on.

Having the appropriate tools helps to facilitate teamwork.

There will be an issue with your team when you introduce information or tools that:

a) team doesn’t grasp the purpose of and

b) tool doesn’t enhance the team workflows or productivity.

Also, the tools must easily integrate synchronous and asynchronous operations. Tools and admin for their own sake are harmful, so giving people the correct tools and listening to their comments goes a long way. If tools aren’t helpful after a long test period, destroy them. Don’t utilize them because it’s tradition.

Teams in hybrid mode

Balance is essential since individuals have varying amounts of energy while socializing. You don’t want your staff exhausted or lonely. Using these suggestions might assist your employees in shifting to the hybrid model in a manner that seems so natural you’ll soon be calling it work.

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4 Ways to Make 2022 Better than 2021

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Make 2022 Better

To be quite frank, 2021 was a really tough year for just about everyone. There was a lot of hope that 2021 would improve as the world got a grip on the Covid-19 pandemic, but different variants and new problems arising made it just as much of a challenge. As the calendar turns to 2022, we’re all looking for a better year to come.

If you want to make 2022 better than 2021, you can’t just wait idly for things to improve. You have to look for opportunities and take them head-on. You can control the direction of your ship instead of allowing the storm to carry you off. This guide will help you prepare yourself for the best year of the decade so far:

1. Make Better Plans

The first thing you need to do is tighten up your time management skills. How you use your time will directly reflect upon the success you have in 2022. Using your Calendar to make better plans will keep you active and engaged every single day of the new year.

Start by scheduling out any upcoming events you already have planned. Work schedules, holiday events, doctor’s appointments, etc. This will give your Calendar some good bones to work with.

Next, look for ways to improve the plans you’ve made. Do you need to coordinate with your team better for an upcoming work meeting? Should you reschedule an appointment so that it doesn’t take up as much of your day, allowing you to be more productive? Small adjustments like this will really add up over the 365 days of the new year.

2. Change Your Mindset

You need to start 2022 off with the right mindset, or at the very least make an effort to keep a positive one. Sure that’s easier said than done, but if you start changing your mindset in January you’ll be a new person by December. It’s high time you got rid of the doom and gloom that’s taken up residence in your subconscious.

A simple method you can employ to try and change your mindset is to use daily affirmations. These are little mantras or phrases that you repeat to yourself to keep your mind clear and your spirits high. Negative thinking and self-talk won’t get you very far, as is very evident from the years past.

An example of a daily affirmation you can use is “I can do this”. Rather than assuming that the task at hand or the global situation is too difficult to handle, you quietly remind yourself that you are capable of so much more. Whisper this phrase to yourself enough and you’ll replace negativity and doubt with courage and drive.

3. Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

The past few years it’s been a little too easy to resort to our comfort zones. Ever since sheltering in place during the beginning of Covid-19 we’ve been hesitant to dream, to do, and to discover. Getting out of your comfort zone won’t be easy, but it will set the stage for a colorful and fun year.

Take a look at the blank spaces in your Calendar and start brainstorming ways to fill them. Maybe it’s time you tried speed dating for the first time or considered taking a boxing class as part of your New Year’s resolution to get back in shape. Under normal circumstances, you wouldn’t dream of pursuing such activities, but you never know what you’re missing out on until you venture out into the unknown.

Getting out of your comfort zone is usually easier with a friend, especially if you’re moving out of your own comfort zone into theirs. For example, you might have a friend that’s an avid rock climber that’s willing to show you the ropes, literally and figuratively. You can coordinate times to go out with them and have a buddy to accompany you as you try new things.

4. Prioritize Yourself

Nothing is more important in 2022 than yourself. If you prioritize yourself this year, you’ll see lots of improvements, especially in your physical and mental well-being. Those two aspects of your life have likely been affected in a negative way due to Covid-19 and the other challenges of the past couple of years.

Look for ways to use your Calendar to put yourself first. This can be done by planning specific activities for personal development or creating habits and routines that promote wellness and growth. Here is a list of ideas you can use to fill up and utilize your Calendar while prioritizing yourself:

  • Make time to exercise every day
  • Develop a good sleep routine
  • Schedule a regular mental health day
  • Get counseling and guidance as needed from professionals
  • Set aside time for things you enjoy
  • Create a meal plan for healthier eating

Each one of these bullet points is an example of something you can do in 2022 to take care of yourself better. This will raise your mental and emotional health which will enable you to have a much more enjoyable year. Prioritizing yourself will also build a strong foundation for many years to come, not just the next 12 months.

Nobody can promise that the events of 2022 will be any better. However, you can take control of your destiny to make this year much better than the last no matter what happens. All it takes is some grit and determination even on the toughest of days. Of course, your Calendar has all the tools you need to make anything happen.

Image Credit: Artem Podrez; Pexels; Thank you!

4 Ways to Make 2022 Better than 2021 was originally published on Calendar by .

How to Stay Motivated in the Winter

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Motivated in Winter

For many of us, it has felt like winter for a couple of months. Unfortunately, not everyone experiences a winter wonderland during the chilly months of the year. For many, winter is the most challenging time to stay motivated and productive. Regardless, work carries on as usual, and workers need to keep on top of their game no matter the season.

Staying motivated throughout the winter will take a little extra effort on your part. Luckily, winter only lasts so long. With the following tips, you should be able to maintain your productivity until spring without an issue:

Make Light a Priority

One of the biggest triggers of seasonal depression is the lack of sunshine. The presence of light subconsciously lifts up your spirits and boosts your motivation. Unfortunately, with fewer hours of sunlight in the winter, it’s more difficult for many people to remain positive and productive throughout the entire season.

To help yourself stay motivated in the winter, try to take advantage of those few hours of sunlight that are available. Pull back the drapes, face the window, and brave the cold for the occasional walk. Even a little bit of natural sunlight will make a massive difference in your winter motivation.

If getting natural sunlight proves to be difficult, try some artificial light. For example, you can purchase a small desk lamp that works as an artificial sun. It might not seem like much, but the additional light will help you start each day off on the right foot.

Manage Your Temperature

In addition to the amount of light you get during the winter, regulating your temperature is part of your environment you need to stay on top of. If your body is shivering in the cold, you’ll have a hard time focusing on your daily to-do list.  In addition, being cold has been proven to stunt productivity.

On the opposite end, being too warm can make you feel sluggish and work just as slowly as if you were battling the cold. So make sure that by keeping warm, you’re not so cozy that productivity is too far out of reach. Otherwise, you’re just replacing one extreme with the other.

Managing your temperature goes beyond adjusting the thermostat. For example, you might love cuddling up at your desk with a warm blanket, but is that making you feel productive or snoozy? You might need to opt for a nice sweater and some cozy socks to stay warm without falling into a trance.

Create Plans and Goals for Summer

If winter keeps bringing you down, create some plans and set some goals for the following summer. This will give you many exciting things to look forward to, which should boost your morale, even if only temporarily. Your summer plans will also make for a nice reward for making it through the winter to the best of your abilities.

Let’s use the classic example of summer vacation. To make this vacation happen, you need to save up money and build up your vacation hours to get the time off. This should give your work ethic a significant boost through the winter months as you dream of sunny beaches and piña coladas.

Schedule Time for What You Love

What are some activities that you just love to do? Use your Calendar to ensure you’re making time for them. Participating in your favorite activities is sure to reinvigorate you even after a long and cold week.

If you’re fighting the winter blues, it’s also unfortunately easy to lose motivation, even when it comes to your favorite hobbies and passions. Scheduling time for these activities will add to your to-do list and help you stop making excuses and procrastinating.

For example, you might love painting but have put away your easel in favor of wrapping yourself in multiple blankets while binge-watching TV throughout the afternoon. Add some time slots for painting in your Calendar to break out of your cocoon and do some painting. Even if it’s only for a few minutes a day, you’ll get the variation and enjoyment from doing something that actually interests you. Keeping up with your hobbies are a great way to stay motivated in the winter.

Remember to Exercise

Another activity you might lose motivation for during the winter is regular exercise. Not only is exercise good for perking you up, but it’s also a great way to stay warm. Exercise improves blood circulation and gets your heart pumping, allowing your body to regulate its temperature more effectively. Not to mention, a good sweat is bound to warm you up on even the coldest of days.

You don’t necessarily have to brave the cold to get your exercise in. Going to a local gym provides access to all kinds of indoor workouts, including stationery bikes, indoor tracks, and sometimes even a heated pool. You’ll build up healthy habits and warm up your body while only needing to walk to and from the parking lot.

If you don’t have access to a nice, friendly gym or simply don’t have the time, try some at-home workouts. You can accomplish a lot by following video guides using simple exercise methods. You don’t even need any equipment to get a good workout in; just follow the steps provided by your instructor and feel the burn.

Not all of us can say, “the cold never bothered me anyway.” However, that doesn’t mean that winter has to deprive you of all energy and enjoyment until you thaw out in the spring. Start making an effort to stay motivated by tackling winter head-on, and you won’t be bothered by the freezing temperatures even one bit.

Image Credit: Pixabay; Pexels; Thank you! 

Work Less Because It’s Done and Play More in 2022

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Work Less Because It’s Done and Play More in 2022

You may have seen folks around you who get everything done and then some. How do they get so much done so fast?

Time management is the answer.

Time management is the art of organizing and allocating minutes, getting things done. This maximizes productivity and achieves goals. Time management improves job performance and life satisfaction while reducing stress. High achievers don’t just happen. Rather, they’ve honed the talents required to achieve more in less time.

Productivity is a skill.

It’s an acquired talent that everyone must learn. However, it is feasible (and simple) to learn time management. There are several tools, strategies, and approaches available to assist you. We’ve rounded together our finest 32 day-saving ideas.

Planning Your Time to be Done Faster

Planned calendar management will help you build solid habits, get things done and increase your chances of success.

1. Conduct a time audit.

First things first: figure out where you spend your time. Often, what you believe is taking up your time isn’t. Humans are lousy at estimating task duration. Let’s say you need to send a 300-word email. Think: “Emailing is easy. It should just take 5 minutes.” Proofreading, checking language choice, and identifying email addresses are all duties that might add to the task’s duration. Your 5-minute email may take you 20 minutes, 500% longer than expected with such changes.

Assume you have the same issue with numerous tasks. A balanced workload will inevitably turn into a hectic to-do list during the day. You need to know what you can do and what is genuinely eating up your minutes. That’s why a time audit is useful. The most straightforward approach to undertake a time audit is using calendar tracking software. Many firms provide free software, but Toggl Track is the easiest, with applications for all devices.

Track your activities for a week to get an accurate time utilization picture. Then, examine the reports at the end of the week and analyze the time you spend on various chores. With this data, you can quickly improve. For example, you may waste time in useless meetings or busywork.

Now you can see how you spend your time and prepare accordingly.

So here’s the next piece of advice.

Tip #2: Set realistic goals and prioritize and be done.

Time management won’t assist you if you have too much to do. After doing a time audit, you’ll know if you need to manage your time better or if you have too much on your plate.

For attainable goals, skip to suggestion 3.

If you feel overwhelmed, create an Eisenhower matrix or use the 4 Ds of time management: Do, Defer, Delegate, and Delete. Your duties are divided into four categories into both methods:

Do: Important and urgent tasks.

Defer: Important yet non-urgent tasks.

Delegate: Urgent but unimportant tasks.

Delete: Non-urgent or non-critical tasks.

These methods will help you decide what jobs to prioritize, schedule, delegate, or remove. They should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely.

Tip #3: Make a daily management strategy.

You can do this in the morning or at the end of the day. Creating a daily to-do list is one of those time slots. Keep your to-do list simple. The sight of half-completed lists is discouraging.

Even in personal productivity, it’s preferable to under-promise and over-deliver. Write your list as though you’ve already finished it. Submit Report to Project Manager instead of “Submit Report to Project Manager.”

This tiny method will give you an extra push of desire to finish your duties.

Tip #4: Sunday planning management

A strategy will help you focus on your critical goals during the workweek. It also enables you to move from weekend mode to “work mode” on Monday morning. First, spend a few minutes on Sunday planning your entire week. Then, break down weekly goals into daily chores to increase achievement.

You’ll be able to see your daily tasks at a glance. Schedule low-priority work for Fridays and other low-energy days. The week’s energy and creative levels change. Finish creative projects on Tuesday and Wednesday. Plan meetings for Thursday, when your team’s energy drops. Plan and network on Fridays and Mondays.

Personal productivity has hundreds of variations. Because everyone works differently, experimenting with these time management techniques will help you find the ideal strategy for you.

Tip #5: Finish your most critical and time-consuming activities first thing.

The first few hours of work are usually the most fruitful. This is because you can focus better while your brain isn’t completely awake.

They have less energy for daydreaming and other duties. So, preferably, do your most intellectually demanding responsibilities first thing in the morning.

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