These days, there are many meeting room and personal productivity tools available. Used correctly, these tools can increase your productivity in the meeting room. But when not used wisely, they can turn against you. Review this list to see whether or not you've been using your tools to enhance or inhibit your productivity.

Scheduling a meeting using Outlook or a similar scheduling tool Neglecting to use the feature in the scheduling tool that lets you check availability of participants prior to sending the meeting request
Preparing your presentation in PowerPoint to make edits quickly and be able to reuse it whenever necessary Trying to impress people with your knowledge of PowerPoint and ending up distracting them from your message through the use of too much animation
When it's your turn to take meeting notes, capturing the gist of the meeting on an interactive whiteboard When it's your turn to take meeting notes, capturing what you think should have been said rather than what was actually agreed upon
Using your PDA to quickly check your availability for the next meeting Using your PDA to take notes and making everyone wait while you play the "I've almost got it..." game
Using your notebook to jot down personal notes in the meeting Using your notebook to jot down your grocery list and favorite doodles in the meeting
Connecting your laptop to the network to capture notes directly or review relevant meeting material Connecting your laptop to the network to read your e-mail during the meeting
Using a projector to display information so that everyone in the room can follow Using a projector and standing in front of the beam so that you look like you have a tattoo

The fact of the matter is that any tool can help or hinder, depending on where and how you use it. The trick is to learn how the tool adds to your personal productivity, then apply it in that way. Here are a few tips for using some common tools more productively.
Spend a few minutes looking at the tutorials in the software you use most often. Chances are you're using only 10% of its features. The 80/20 rule definitely applies here – is there one more feature that, if you learn to use correctly, would pay off in productivity gains? One great example is the organize feature in MS Outlook '98. You can color code e-mail messages according to rules you set – red for messages from the boss, for example.
If you truly want to be more productive during your work hours, time yourself performing each activity. You can either keep an alarm clock on your desk or use your computer clock. Assign a certain amount of time to accomplish a task, then set the alarm to beep when you should be finished. This will allow you to do three things: learn how long tasks actually take (so you can better determine whether they are a valuable use of your time), become better at estimating your actual deliverables, and take a stretch or water break at regular intervals.
A great book about working smarter so that you don't have to work harder (among other things) is Simplify Your Work Life: 100 Ways to Change the Way You Work so You Have More Time to Live by Elaine St. James.

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