Try not to waste group time

Posted by Dermot Crowley on 28th April 2021

Today I wasted 1,000 minutes of other people’s time! That is 16.66 hours of collective time. Two full working days! I feel bad about this, even though it was out of my control.

I was running a training webinar for a large group of 50 people. We were using Zoom, which is a platform that I use regularly. I have an excellent tech set-up for my webinars, and super-fast internet. But something went wrong, and it let me down. And I let them down. After twenty minutes of my Zoom connection freezing and booting me out of the meeting, we decided to cut our losses and reschedule.

Now I believe that this is just one of those occasions where the world conspires against you and upsets your best made plans. It does not happen often. But as I thought about the twenty minutes of time wasted for each of the 50 participants as they watched me start and stop again, I realised that for the company involved, that adds up to a lot of collective time. 1,000 minutes if you recall.

It got me thinking about how we can so easily waste collective time if we do not manage our meetings effectively. It is a good mindset to have, keeping in mind the fact that twenty minutes of wasted time for each participant adds up to many more minutes of wasted time for the team. And wasted opportunity cost. Think of the work that could have been done instead.

So, if you are ten minutes late for a meeting, remember that it might just be ten minutes for you, but potentially it is forty minutes of group time. If you spend five minutes in a meeting looking for a document that you should have had at your fingertips, that could be twenty minutes of group time. And if you run meetings with no clear purpose, with too many unnecessary participants, or no clear and accountable follow-up actions, you could be wasting hours of time.

Today, I do not think I could have done anything more to avoid the wasted time. But maybe you could avoid wasted group time in your meetings with a little bit more planning and focus.

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