I think we’ve all been in meetings that drag on way too long, or we get bogged down with discussing agenda topics at the start and there’s not enough time to discuss the last agenda topics.
No, it’s not just you, or your organisation that does this. Everyone does it! And the consequences aren’t just a little extra time spent. It means you could be late for the next meeting. Meetings are expensive when you look at all the people in the room. If you cut your meeting short, missed communication on agenda items not discussed is a cause for delays, or work going down the wrong track.
We have tried to help solve this.
Rather than just timebox a whole meeting, the key idea is to share an awareness with all participants of time intervals elapsing during an ongoing meeting.
Reason took this problem on for one of it’s hack days to come up with a simple mechanism to help meeting participants be aware of time spent. The creation was a little app called ‘Timebox It’. The app is a bare bones interval timer, which you simply select the number of minutes, and the app will alert you at the selected intervals. The idea is very simple, but we have found it helps hugely in structuring time spent for a meeting.
Our weekly 1 hour meetings are now timeboxed to 4x15 minute intervals, and we know exactly when an agenda section is up, and when to move on. If we have to cut a section short. We arrange to discuss afterwards with only the parties required. Since using ‘Timebox It’ our meetings have rarely overrun, people are not wasting time by sitting in on discussions that don’t concern them, and everyone is a little bit happier.
Our goal for hack days is to get a product out in one day and attempt to solve a particular problem. ‘Timebox It’ is a perfect example of what can be produced. We know the app could potentially grow in functionality and parts of the experience could be done better, but give us your feedback, or let us know how you use it, and we might expand on ‘Timebox It’ for another hack day.