TIB271 It’s About Time! The Art Of Shorter Meetings with Donna McGeorge


Ever feel like the life of a trade business owner is a string of meetings? Even if you don’t spend lots of time in meetings, they can still chew up a ton of your time and often seem like a waste of… well… time! When you’re already busy, how on earth do you fit everything in?

Our podcast guest for episode TIB271 is Donna McGeorge, author of the book The 25 Minute Meeting. Donna will teach you how to change your meetings and time habits to not only fit more in, but have more free time for you!

Meetings. Meetings. And Meetings again.

For some tradies, meetings can feel mountainous. We have to have them; it’s how we get work done; and it’s how we end up collaborating and having the right conversations at the right time. But how many of these meetings have you walked away from or thought to yourself “that was a waste of everybody’s time, especially mine!”

According to Donna, 80% of meetings are a waste of time for 80% of the participants. When you ask them about the quality of the meetings, those who organised or run the meeting would say that it went great. However, if you ask the other people that turn up, chances are 80% of them would say otherwise. And there’s 2 probable reasons for this:

  1. the default setting of “we’ve got to answer this question” so they have the meeting; and
  2. they just didn’t run the meeting well

So, anytime you feel like you’ve not made the best use of your time, it might be because you’re defaulting to go into a meeting or you’re spending too much time in meetings. So maybe it is time to think about how you change this? This is where Donna comes in!

Living a Life of Efficiency

Being raised by a military family, with a Navy Dad, Donna’s family had to move around a lot. She went to nine schools in nine years and this helped her establish quality relationships fast, getting up to speed really quickly, and getting stuff done. Growing up with all of that, then moving into the corporate world and having piles of work to get through, Donnas experience meant she had the ability to trim the fat, focus on what’s important and get it done.

Building Adaptive Capacity

“If I want to adapt or if I want to take a meeting or if I want to do a project, I never want to be too busy to work with”

For anyone running their trade business, it is important to always be open to new projects. If you’re too busy to work with, this probably means you’re too busy to quote, you’re too busy to invoice, you’re too busy to have conversations, you’re too busy with your meetings. Sound familiar?

“Why do we run our own business if we’re going to work ourselves into the ground?”

One of the common saying is that busy is the new lazy. And people tend to use “being busy” as an excuse. But how about changing this into “I can’t prioritise that” or “I’m not prioritising that”?

So, instead of saying “I’m too busy to go to the gym” or “I’m too busy to go to a retreat”, it’s actually “I’m not prioritising my health and my future”, and this thought may hit harder and encourage you to plan your life better.

The Art of Shorter Meetings: Scan. Focus. Act.

One of the reasons most meetings end up being a waste of time is we go straight to act. We go straight to what are the actions, what should we be doing, what should we focus on, instead of understanding first the context.

In a workplace scenario, there are three key things that most people fail to address:

  1. We don’t clearly define the purpose. It would be better to answer the question or complete the sentence “it would be great if…” so people can come prepared for the meeting
  2. Is it the right people. Do you have the decision makers in the room? We don’t want to have the meeting just to prepare for another meeting.
  3. Process. Do the Scan-Focus-Act.

There’s a little structure that can help you keep your meetings to 25 minutes and that’s Scan-Focus-Act. According to Donna, whatever time allocated for a meeting, be it 25 minute or otherwise, it’s good to spend half of it, or 12 minutes, for scanning, 8 minutes will be focused, and 5 minutes of it will be act.

Listen to the full podcast to learn more about how you can manage your time, keep yourself focused and help you run meetings that are worthwhile.

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