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Getting To-Dos to To-Done

Posted by | General Productivity | 2 Comments
Yep, I just went there. I couldn’t help myself with that title.Seriously though, there’s a real problem here.

While over 63% of professionals create to-do lists, a paltry 11% actually finish the tasks they plan to do each day. Thanks LinkedIn via WSJ.

photo via koalazmonkey

Like we did last week, let’s start with a simple scenario to set the mood:

    You just ran a great meeting. Success!!
    That in itself is a challenge, right? The team now has a solid list of to-dos for everyone.
    However, two weeks go by and at best 1/2 of those tasks are done.

Now if you’re like one of my old bosses, you’d march right down to everyone’s desks and demand an explanation. Although your team might demand in return that you get some people skills. Just saying.

For the rest of us, it’s going to take a little more tact to get your team to get these to-dos done for you.

3 Reasons Why To-Dos Don’t Get Done
Before learning what you can do to fix this, let’s first figure out why your to-dos aren’t getting done.

1. Procrastination

Why do today what you can put off till tomorrow? Well, when we get overwhelmed by tasks we continually put them off.  photo via miiitch

2. Forgetfulness
I can’t remember what I had for dinner last night. People forget; it just happens. And a lot of times it’s the to-dos they owe you that they’re forgetting.

3. Prioritization
Put another way, there aren’t enough hours in the day. People prioritize the best they can, and will inevitably prioritize differently than you do.

How To Fight Unfinished To-Dos
What next? Since we now know a bit of the “why” behind to-dos not getting done, we can figure out how to combat those reasons.

Here’s a list of 3 ways to help you get your to-dos done:

1. Simplify The Task
Make the to-do as simple and actionable as possible. If your to-do was “Plan Next Month’s Sales Conference”, would you be overwhelmed? Because I sure would be.

Instead, start simple and with a specific task, such as, “Pick Date for Sales Conference”. That’s much more manageable, right?

2. Remind the Person
It’s ok to send a reminder to someone. Now don’t send them an email every hour on the hour until it’s done, but if it’s been a few days and you’re still waiting on an update, feel free to send a gentle reminder.

Even better – get a tool (Hint hint – Less Meeting) to do the dirty work for you. If someone owes you an action item, Less Meeting automatically reminds them about it for you in their Daily Digest.

3. Own the Prioritization
Be crystal clear about when you need your to-do done. And make sure the other person understands why it’s important. This provides “actionable accountability”.

Meetings are largely about actions. What good is it, though, if the actions you’re creating aren’t getting done? Instead, keep these 3 tips in mind next time someone owes you a to-do and we should be able to get a heck of a lot more than 11% of our work done each day.

And if you liked this post on follow-ups, check out the last post on how to schedule follow-up meetings.

Google Wants You to Have Better Meetings Too

Posted by | General Productivity, Meeting Tips | No Comments

I remember years ago when I’d install a new software program – the first thing I’d do would be to comb the vast settings menus to tweak the program just to my liking.

I’d spend hours figuring out all the intricacies of each program till I knew all the ins & outs. (Embarrassingly I enjoyed doing this too.)

Fast forward to the app world we live in today. Thanks to better and simpler designs, you rarely need to spend any time on app settings pages. And that’s a good thing.

However, I recently saw a couple great Google Calendar settings:

1. Speedy Meetings
Navigate to your Google Calendar Settings page and select the General tab. About a half-dozen entries down there’s an option for Speedy Meetings.

This is fantastic – automatically end your meetings a few minutes early so you can get to your next meeting on time.

2. Daily Digest
It turns out Google has its own version of the Daily Digest too. Again go to your settings page and select the Calendars tab.

Locate the calendar you want and click Notifications. Toward the bottom you’ll see an option to receive a daily email with your Daily Agenda.

Flip these two settings on, integrate your calendar with LessMeeting via our GCal & Google Apps Task sync, and you’re set to go.

2 New Great Web Conferencing Tools…and they’re FREE

Posted by | Business Tips, General Productivity | One Comment
Whether you’re a traveling consultant or you work for a company that has multiple office locations, there’s a good chance that you use conference calls for meetings. In the past you would get a conference dial-in number, send that to all of the participants,and then dial in the admin code yourself. There’s a handful of problems with this:
  1. The dial-in process is painful: “Oops, I pressed a 4 instead of a 7! Now I have to start all over.”
  2. People rarely arrive on time: “Sorry, I couldn’t find the dial-in information.”
  3. It is hard to pay attention: “What did you say? Could you please repeat that?”
  4. There is no collaboration: “I can’t see what you’re looking at.”
Fortunately technology has fixed most of those issues, but up until very recently the solutions were costly. One of the most common solutions is GoToMeeting, but that costs $50 per month per person. Skype is free, but it doesn’t allow you to share your screen, so really it only solves the first two issues listed above.Enter MeetingBurner and Google+ Hangouts. Web conferencing has never been freer or easier.

We’ll reiterate that: Free and easy web conferencing. The holy grail of conference calls!

MeetingBurner

About a month ago TheNextWeb wrote an article about MeetingBurner. We tried MeetingBurner out (it’s FREE!) and found that it was very easy to use and attendees didn’t need to download any software. The meeting organizer needed to download software to share his or her screen, but overall it took less than a minute to start sharing a screen for the first time.

MeetingBurner also offers a dial-in phone number for those that cannot join through their computers. Overall our experience was very positive and we’d definitely recommend it for anyone who needs to organize a web conference with screen sharing.

Google+More recently, Google has announced that Google+ Hangouts will have a screen sharing feature, as well as other collaboration tools such as shared documents and a sketchpad. The key question is whether Google+ can be used for web conferencing in a business setting?

What do you think? Do you have your business contacts and/or co-workers in your Google account? We’re really happy with the functionality and ease of use that MeetingBurner provides, so we’re sticking with them for now. We’d love to hear from you if you want to comment.

We’re Not Alone – New Startups Agree That Meetings Can Be Fixed

Posted by | General Productivity, Meeting Tips | 4 Comments

As we’ve said before, LessMeeting was born out of a shared frustration with just how bad the meetings we’ve been in can be.  We tried to find a solution but didn’t see anything that helped our problem.

At the time products mostly addressed what we call “The 35,000 Foot Problem”, or how to use technology to reduce the cost of meetings.  Hence the WebEx’s and GoTo Meeting’s that we’re all familiar with.

However, over the past 12 months or so we’ve seen a noticeable uptick of startups that, like us, feel meetings don’t have to be a necessary evil.  And you know what, we’re glad to welcome these competitors to the market space.
Competitors Wanted!
One of our initial challenges was to get people to understand that bad meetings are a real problem with a real solution.  However as Ben Yoskovitz explains, new competitors are a good sign because it helps validate your market and in turn, helps the overall market grow as customers see the buzz.

Market validation helps a market grow.  It drives more customers – who are acting as followers vs. leaders – to make buying decisions. It creates buzz. It awakens the interest of investors.

We’ve updated our competitor landscape and want to share with you some of the cool new competitors out there.  Take a look & let us know what you think.  What offerings do they have that you wished LessMeeting did?  What other signs have you seen that the meeting effectiveness market space is growing?

LessMeeting

http://www.lessmeeting.com
Let’s start with us. We help you throughout the whole meeting life-cycle. Plan your meetings better with agendas. Make Running meetings easier with a great meeting minutes tool, and then actually Follow Up on tasks with automated to-do reminders.

GMinutes

http://gminutes.com/
GMinutes is an online meeting minutes tool that will help you schedule, write, and share minutes. Similar to LessMeeting, you can also track your action items.
Cool Feature: Gantt Chart reporting for your group’s action items

LucidMeetings

http://lucidmeetings.com/
Like LessMeeting, LucidMeetings approaches ways to improve the whole meeting life cycle: Meeting Preparation, In-Meeting Collaboration, and Post-Meeting Follow ups.

Cool Feature: In-Meeting speaker queue and chat section
Meetin.gs

http://www.meetin.gs/
Meetin.gs is an online meeting organization tool that offers many of the same features as the other entrants in the space.  Meetin.gs is currently in Beta and scheduled to go live soon so we look forward to checking it out.

Cool Feature:  New meeting bookmarklet
MeetingMix

http://meetingmix.com/
MeetingMix focuses on users such as Project Managers to help them run their meetings better through a dedicated & simple meeting webpage.

Cool Feature: WYSIWYG text editor for capturing meeting minutes
MinuteBase

http://minutebase.com/ 
MinuteBase focuses on making meeting collaboration effective and easy.  It’s a visually appealing tool and is very user experience friendly.

Cool Feature:  Schedule & find meeting times with the Shared Calendar
yaM stands for “Yet Another Meeting,” and is a venture funded company focused on collaboration across meetings, notes, documents, brainstorming sessions, and tasks.
Cool Feature:  In meeting tools such as whiteboards, SWOT analysis, and voting


Update: Since this post first came out we got some great feedback – in particular, three additional sites we missed!  Check out MeetingKing, miniMtg, and agreedo below…

agreedo

https://www.agreedo.com/
Agreedo focuses on some familiar meeting pains – preparing for, running, and collaborating during meetings.  Agreedo also features detailed task management options.

Cool Feature:  Easily create a follow-up meeting & choose the discussion items you want to carry over to your next meeting

MeetingKing

http://meetingking.com/

MeetingKing gives you a single tool to manage agendas, minutes, and tasks; you can also create standalone tasks outside of meetings.  While it’s in Beta you can try it out for free.

Cool Feature:  A dedicated Resources section on the site gives users additional meeting advice

miniMtg

http://www.minimtg.com/

Like its name suggests, miniMtg is a small, free, meeting app that focuses on a taking notes, assigning actions, and writing minutes from a shared meeting space.

Cool Feature:  Lack of features! miniMtg is incredibly easy to use so users aren’t confused with feature bloat

More Bang for the Buck

Posted by | General Productivity | No Comments
Great comment from McKinsey that solidifies the LessMeeting position that improved interaction among knowledge workers is the fastest and most cost effective means of increasing productivity.
Quote from the McKinsey Quarterly:

“Since knowledge workers spend half their time on interactions, our research and experience suggest that companies should first explore the productivity barriers that impede these interactions. Armed with a better understanding of the constraints, senior executives can get more bang for their buck by identifying targeted productivity-improvement efforts to increase both the efficiency and effectiveness of the interactions between workers.”

If it were possible to easily and effectively remove productivity barriers from your work force would you do it?

Rise of the Knowledge Worker: Removing Productivity Bottlenecks

Posted by | General Productivity | No Comments
What Matters: Using technology to improve workforce collaboration

For some time now LessMeeting has trumpeted a concept which this article so aptly points out. Workforce productivity can no longer be measured with manufacturing output numbers alone, the workforce and the definition of workforce productivity has changed. There’s been a shift in the employment landscape, today more than ever we rely on knowledge workers as the backbone of our organizations. According to McKinsey the wages from knowledge workers total 18% ($2.6 Trillion) of the United States GDP. Since the shift appears to be here to stay companies must begin to search for new ways of define and maximize employee productivity. LessMeeting believes, and based on the content of this article McKinsey agrees, the key to greater workforce productivity is the improvement of communication and collaboration among knowledge workers.