I used a free online tool to calculate exactly how much of my life I spend in meetings, and I was pleasantly surprised

At their worst, office meetings can bring productivity to a screeching halt. Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock.com
  • Meetings can bring productivity to a halt, so companies are always looking for ways to make them more productive.
  • I recently used the site Meeting Stats to find out exactly how much time I spent in meetings over the past 12 months. I was pleasantly surprised.
  • The site also told me how long my meetings tend to run, which days of the week have the most meetings, and how many people typically participate in them.

Meetings are often the bane of an office worker’s existence: At their worst, they waste time and bring productivity to a screeching halt.

I recently stumbled upon Meeting Stats, a website that sifts through your online calendar to find out exactly how much time you spend in meetings each year.

I connected my Google calendar and let the tool work its magic. It looked for any events on my calendar from the past 12 months labelled as meetings, excluding those that didn’t have an end time and those that only listed one participant. I was pleasantly surprised at the results I got back moments later:

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Just 23 hours a year in meetings – less than a day! Apparently, meetings made up just 1% of my working hours over the course of a year.

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For the sake of comparison, I asked my editor to link her calendar, too. I suddenly had a newfound appreciation for the work she does:

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The site also gave me stats on how many people attended my meetings and how long they lasted. Thankfully, none of my meetings ran for more than an hour:

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And I also got the breakdown of when in the week my meetings occurred. Thankfully, Friday meetings aren’t a regular thing at Business Insider:

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Solving the problem of unproductive meetings has been a priority for companies of late.

Productivity experts have revealed some helpful strategies for workers to make the most out of their meetings. For example, meetings with fewer people tend to be more effective than those with many attendants, according to a Harvard Business Review report.

Along those lines, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos famously follows the “two pizza rule” – that is, never hold a meeting where two pizzas couldn’t feed the entire group.

Read more:
9 expert tips to hold meetings that don’t waste people’s time

Other experts have recommended setting a clear agenda for meetings beforehand. That way, participants can bring ideas to the table and the meeting is less likely to get sidetracked.

“Give me an agenda or else I’m not going to sit there,” Annette Catino, the chief executive of the QualCare Alliance Network, told The New York Times. “Because if I don’t know why we’re in the meeting, and you don’t know why we’re there, then there’s no reason for a meeting.”

Some other efficient, albeit slightly more radical ideas include requiring all participants to stand during a meeting, having participants write down ideas instead of sharing them out loud, and minimise interrupting by requiring the speaker to be holding a designated item, like a pen or notepad.