Discover how a $5 iPhone app is helping to combat the $37bn cost of unproductive meetings every year
MeeTime iOS app helps corporate employees get out of meeting hell
Staffordshire, UK – Jul 15, 2017 – Employees are wasting up to 2 years of their lives[ii] sitting in useless meetings and no wonder as three-quarters of people have never received any formal training on how to conduct a meeting[iii]. MeeTime was conceived as a simple way to help people run meetings more effectively. It is founded on the premise that you cannot control time, only decide what you want to do within it. It starts automatically and helps keep your meetings on track. MeeTime is already being used by employees in big organisations including Goldman Sachs, Rolls Royce, Nielsen, Hewlett Packard, DXC and Molson Coors, among others.
The advice to ‘start on time, stay on time, stick to the agenda and end on time’ is always in the top 5 ways to make meetings better[iv], but as Yogi Berra says, “in theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.” And staying on time is easier said than done. Especially if you are the one running the meeting, trying to keep time and taking notes. When things inevitably go awry, it can be an impossible mental arithmetic task to work out how to get back on track.
Gavin Jones, Founder and Managing Director said, “It is interesting to see people when they are in an internal corporate meeting. Everyone hates them, yet most are just resigned to the fact that they haveto be there. It seems like no one is linking the fact that if they take control and leave this meeting early, they can get home to their kids, go to the gym, work on their side hustle or, in fact, anything that they complain they do not have time for.” Jones used the time he saved in meetings to create MeeTime as a side hustle from his corporate job and wanted to help people remove their excuses to do the same.
MeeTime will start when the meeting is supposed to start. If you are behind, guess what? You're behind. However, MeeTime will help keep you on track with beautiful visuals showing how much time is left and who is on point for each section of the meeting. Plus, it is easier than ever to finish a meeting on time with MeeTime. Should things not go to plan, the “Auto time remaining” setting automatically apportions over/under-runs across the remainder of the agenda.
“This is a great, great idea and it has massive potential. I truly believe that this has got great potential to help a large number of people!” ~ Chris Bateman, Global Senior Manager, World Class Supply Chain, Molson Coors Europe.
“I think the visual aesthetics alone make it far easier to keep pace during a meeting instead of watching a clock. Great start for a new app!” ~ Carlye King, Project Manager, Revenue Management & Optimization, Nielsen.
"This is an awesome idea! I love this,” said Richmond Nash, Productivity Coach. “It is indispensable to have an app that breaks down the agenda of a meeting by each point and the time frame for each! I'm in a lot of meetings and this is going to be a go to app!!”
“Does exactly what it says on the tin. The interface during the meeting itself is easy to understand and has all the info that you need. I liked the congratulations summary, I could see how much time I’d saved for myself and others and it’s allowed me to talk of the benefits of meeting with me – we always achieve our objectives within the time allocated!” ~ Paul Rowe, Commercial Enterprise PMO Business Partner, Molson Coors International.
About MeeTime Ltd.
MeeTime Ltd. was founded in Feb 2016 by Gavin Jones. MeeTime was started to help people make better use of their time and started with a simple question, “what would you do with an extra hour per day?” The launch of MeeTime Ltd’s first app is to help corporate workers run meetings that stay on time and get people out of meeting hell.
Jones conceived of the idea whilst he had a job setting up a new integrated business planning process for senior executives and realising that it is hard for even the top level of management to run meetings effectively. He wanted the app for himself at the time and found that there was nothing on the market that does exactly what is needed, so he decided to create one for himself.
As Jones was in a full-time job he used tips from the 4-hour work week, Think and Grow Rich and The Miracle Morning, to free up time to outsource design and development to different time zones to allow him to project manage the business before and after his day-job.
Whilst MeeTime has been in development Jones lost his grandma and father, after a long battle with cancer, and his wife is due with their first child in August. All of which could have been excuses not to carry on but he wanted to start-up his own business to be a role model for his kids. “ I wanted to show them, not just tell them, that having multiple streams of income is not only smart but necessary as the economy and business world changes around us,” Jones said.
If only 2 or 3 people are meeting, it is not a meeting. You are just scheduling time for a chat. No need to go overboard with prep, but it might help if the person knows why you want to talk to them first - unless you just want to build a relationship. 1-on-1 should be used for building relationships, for feedback, for any difficult conversations or actions that you parked from a bigger meeting. If it were up to me, all meetings would be this kind. This is where the real work happens. This or a workshop, but the most successful workshops start with a few 2-3 people meetings anyhow.
If 4 or more people are meeting, you have yourself a proper meeting and you should sign-post it as such with an agenda. How strict you need to be on the agenda depends on which of the four types of meetings you are running:
“Doing the doing” when this happens to need a diverse group of people to make it happen. Make sure everyone there is needed and knows what they are talking about. “Hangers-on” can severely disrupt the flow and creativity of the rest. Cut people ruthlessly and manage with a smaller number than required. You can always take your findings to people outside the core group afterwards if needed. This kind of work usually benefits from large amounts of unstructured time, like a half or full day. You may want to break it down into a couple of chunks to make sure you are making progress, but don’t go overboard on the timings. Go with the flow.
Cancel this meeting if the person needing a decision has not shared why the decision is needed, the options and estimated consequences of each option, and their recommendation. If you are the person needing the decision, make sure you have spoken to the key people beforehand. Like House of Cards, never call a vote unless you are sure you are going to win. You need to know who is on-side or not so you can prep everyone else. This kind of meeting, when done well is just acting out what everyone already knows. Time it ruthlessly. Allow some time to go through each option (as anyone you have not spoken to will never have read a pre-read), some time for discussion, and then push for a decision when the time is up. If you can’t get the meeting to a decision, then you either have a bunch of people that use “more info” as an excuse or you have not done enough prep to show that a decision is really required and that it is needed now.
Relationship building / development on scale:
For example, team meetings or anything where the main aim is to get people working together. This is fine. Introduce some structure and timing to keep things on track, but be upfront that the point of this is to work together better or give people the safe space for development e.g. running a team meeting or presenting.
People not being aware of which type of meeting they are in. It can be okay to break a bigger meeting into parts that may cross the four types but avoid it where possible. The biggest source of frustration for attendees is confusion over what sort of meeting they were in. For example, you don’t want lots of discussion at a deliverables update; You don’t want people pushing to record actions in the middle of a workshop; You don’t want people trying to solve the world in a cascade; And you don’t want people telling their life story in a decision meeting.
Similarly, no one likes a time-Nazi if the group is just about to get the result they are after and someone cuts them off for the sake of a couple of minutes. Let it run over and then readjust. The key is to be able to do this quickly and have structured your meeting so you can run over. E.g. don’t ask for a decision right at the end when everyone needs to leave for another meeting. The decision should be made 10mins before the end. Buffer it with AOB if needed.
You can do all this with a clock, but seeing the time tick down and communicating this will increase the effectiveness of your meetings massively. Having the ability to proportion delays across the rest of your agenda instantly, so you always have a plan to finish on time is something your co-workers will be eternally grateful for. Okay maybe not, but they might buy you a coffee. MeeTime does all these things and for less than the price of a clock. Google Ventures uses a time timer at $25-£50 dollars. For a tenth of the price, you can have something more sophisticated always available in your pocket. Shameless plug over. Get MeeTime.
Excerpt from Tools Of Titans, Tim Ferriss:
Noah Kagan on what would you put on a billboard?
"'It’s not about ideas, it’s about making ideas happen.' I'd put it on every college campus in the world. In our youth, we are wonderfully creative and idealistic... Truth is, young creative minds don't need more ideas, they need to take more responsibility with the ideas they've already got."
Similarly, think of all the meetings you are in where everyone gets a say. Everyone has a new idea, yet not many of them are executing any results or taking ownership of the ideas they throw out. Just like a pact between friends to always do sober what you said you would do whilst drunk, if someone has an idea then give them an action to execute that idea.
If you are going out drinking. If you are staying in watching Love Island. If you are spending time complaining to someone else.
You are not spending time improving yourself. Surely, this is the only way out of any situation?
"It's a bargain. It was on sale. It was half price."
Something is only worth what someone else will pay for it. Unless you are in the business of reselling stuff you bought a low price then why bother about the promotion?
If the price is important then there are always alternatives that are cheaper in almost every market. The designer top that is a bargain because it is half price, is still about 2500% more that it cost to make. Is it really a bargain?
And if you are a brand owner or retailer, why not sell out at full price?
Fix your product. Fix your service. Customers should be happy to pay more for a scant supply of something valuable to them.
Unless you are a commodity. Then the best thing you can do is realise you are a commodity and structure and price yourself accordingly. The problem with a race to the bottom though, as Seth would say, is that you might win.
When I am at my most productive, I follow the life S.A.V.E.R.S mnemonic from Hal Elrod’s Miracle Morning book. Then I write morning pages to get blog ideas. And finally, catch up with my developers for any issues or test the latest build of my app. All before leaving for my day job at 0730.
What this looks like for me is:
S. Silence. I use Headspace app for 10 minutes of meditation first thing after I get up to start the day calmly.
A. Affirmations. These were really difficult to start with but have built up over time and now also include lots of quotes - mainly ones to stop procrastination
V. Visualisation. I use a visualisation board. Which contains a visual split of Tim Ferriss’ dreamline: things I want to have, things I want to do, and who I want to be.
E. Exercise. I don’t use weights as I want to avoid injury and want to be in proportion. So I do pull-ups, chin-ups, pushups and air squats. I also do 10 mins of Yoga Studio app on the Apple TV or iPhone to stretch out and increase flexibility. This also reinforces the mediation as there is lots of deliberate breathing.
R. Reading. I used to hate reading at school and I still hate reading fiction. But reading non-fiction in the morning really starts to get my creative juices flowing and ready for action.
S. Scribing. I use the 5-minute journal to practice gratitude and also just to get in the habit of writing things done and out of my head. When I started my blog I also then started practising morning pages…
This is basically just starting writing. It does not matter if you do not know what to write, you just write for three pages every morning. I thought this would be hard, but I find it incredibly therapeutic. Most of the time when I cannot think of a blog post, if I start this one just materialises out of my subconscious. If not, then it gets everything off my chest ready for the day ahead.
As I referenced, I also write a daily blog to make me get in the habit of shipping things that are not perfect. This is a good habit to cultivate, especially for a person like me who is more prone to procrastinating over perfection.
A couple of tips for those that feel like you can’t get up early, but want to start. Firstly, you can do it! I used to be a complete night owl and would not get going until after 5 pm. And I would be the last one in the bar at night. Realise that there is no natural morning or evening person, you are just a reflection of your habits. Also, realise that there is no race, you can start slowly and improve.
A great tip is to first, just get in the habit of sitting up when your alarm goes off. If you cannot even get up without snoozing for an hour, then no point setting your alarm for any earlier. Do this for a week then, once you can literally get up on the alarm start to set your alarm 10mins earlier each day until you manage to get to your desired wake up time. I like to still get 8hours sleep a night so this means going to bed earlier. This might be a deal breaker for some, but how much do you really want to be more productive? 8pm-11pm I know that I am not going to be doing any work anyway, I will be watching Netflix. So better to cut that out, go to bed and do something productive in the morning. It is a lot harder to waste your time-consuming content after you have just woken yourself up to do it.
Once you can get up on the alarm and at the time you want, you may still feel a little groggy. Try reading on an iPad or tablet - the light will ease you awake. For more abrupt wake-up, try brushing your teeth straight away, splash cold water on your face or just go straight to a cold shower.