Removing Meetings

On a busy project it’s common to have a full calendar of meeting; so much so, that it’s often hard to find time to get actual work done!

When something new crops up, people are quick to add another meeting to the calendar, but how often do people go out of their way to remove meetings?

Once a recurring meeting gets established it can be really hard to get rid of it, even if it’s not achieving its purpose. Some meetings often end up as a general talking-shop where everyone feels the need to voice their opinion. And meeting attendance just seems to grow week on week, with more and more people added to the invite list.

I know of so many people that complain about the number of meetings they have – and, ironically, they are often the ones that talk the most during those meetings! But how many people ever question the need for a meeting?

In my project we’ve been looking at the number and length of all our recurring meetings, and have tried to re-focus ones that have got off-track. Some meetings have been shortened, some made less frequent, and some have reduced the number of attendees. We also created a matrix to describe what job roles have mandatory or optional attendance at meeting, which helps people determine if they can legitimately skip something.

The up-shot is that one meeting, which used to last occur twice a week for an hour with around 20 attendees, is now just 30 minutes once a week with 8 attendees – freeing up a total of 36 hours of people’s time. Just think of the productivity! It’s like hiring an extra person, and that’s just from one of our meetings.

Working on more than one Excel spreadsheet

Microsoft Excel by default opens all spreadsheets into the same Workspace, so it can be tricky if you want to work on multiple spreadsheets at the same time.

If you’re copying information between two spreadsheets, or want to compare data from two different sources, then it can be tricky to do. You might have experienced the problem of having to flick back and forth between two spreadsheets.

One way around it is to use the View Side by Side option:

  • Open the two spreadsheets you want to work upon
  • Select the View tab
  • Click on View Side by Side
  • To switch between the spreadsheets being on top of each other or side by side, click on Arrange All and select Horizontal or Vertical

It will look something like this:

However, that’s still not much use if you have two monitors, and want to have a separate spreadsheet in each monitor, because a maximised Excel worksheet only works in one monitor.

What you need is to start up two separate instances of Excel, and then each instance can be maximised¬†on separate monitors. The first instance of Excel loads in the normal way, and you open your first spreadsheet in that. The second instance of Excel can be started by holding down the shift key as you click on the Excel icon (either from the Start menu or Taskbar). A separate blank Excel worksheet will launch (it’s actually a second instance of the Excel program running) and you can load your second spreadsheet into that.

These separate instances run completely independently of each other, and one can be closed (or even killed in the Task Manager) without affecting the other.

Productivity Leap

The impending start of my new day job on Monday has rather focussed my mind.

All those little jobs, that I've hitherto been putting off, now have to fit within the last few remaining days of freedom. And so, overnight, I've suddenly become rather busy.

I'll not bore you with the various jobs that I've got to complete, but yesterday I ended up doing a 12-hour day – from 10.00am to midnight – with only a two hour break in the middle to share a cup of tea with a friend and grab some dinner.

I'm certainly not used to this level of activity. Indeed for the last few weeks, I've managed to lose most of the day watching trashy daytime TV shows. And any jobs that have needed doing have taken about 3-4 times as long as usual, if they've even been done at all.

I guess the old saying holds true; that if you want something doing, then always ask a busy person. Because, with too much time on your hands, you become awfully unproductive.

A simple task like doing laundry can (including extended procrastination time) expand to last all day; so that you end up getting very little done.