It seems like most people in the work world manage their lives and their actions around their Outlook calendar.   The amount of meetings people have is mind-boggling to me. Not only are folks spending a lot of time in meetings but has any one ever asked why just about every single meeting is one hour? I have not read any studies that suggest one hour is the most effective time for a meeting. I am thinking it is one hour because it fits into a real nice box in Outlook. One of the largest problems in business is people confuse activity vs. effectiveness. Folks are led to believe they are “doing great” if their day and week is packed with meetings giving them the sense of activity. Businesses and workers will enjoy greater success the more they can maximize their time to leverage their brain and maximize the results of their job.

Entrepreneurs can easily fall prey into activity being more important than effectiveness. I have meet with several folks that have been “working really hard” meeting with investors, marketing folks, having coffee with people, etc. You know life as an entrepreneur working 80-hour work weeks. When I press them on what potential customers’ feedback is the response from the entrepreneur is “it will be something they will get to in the future.” Customers and revenue are the lifeblood of all businesses. The majority of our time should be talking to them!   Not to mention it makes the meeting with marketing folks and investors much more powerful.

Everyone needs to understand what they can do to really grow the company. What objectives will help the company grow revenue or decrease costs? No matter your insight into what can be done to grow the business. Everyone should spend between 10% and 20% of their week on these activities. This amounts to between ½ day and 1 day during the work week. These are the activities that transform businesses. This is a time a sales person can go whale hunting for an account that might take them well over a year to close. This is the time when the Post-it note and gmail were created.

Meetings do serve as a very important part of business. My recommendation is to not start or go into any meeting unless all participants know what the objective of the meeting is. If the meeting is crazy important to the company, go ahead and take several hours. If there is nothing more important in the company, stay with it—the rest of the meetings can wait. However, if the objective of the meeting can be achieved in five meetings, PERFECT! All participants will be get more of their day back so they can focus on more important activities.

Shorten the meeting times, talk to more customers and start spending more time on the objectives that will really help you grow your business. It will do wonders for your career and the valuation of your business.