Meetings. Do they sometimes go off the rails?

We’ve all been there when a meeting goes off the rails and begins to slowly drain your sanity. This can certainly be avoided, though. Meetings can be more productive if we work at improving them.
Every meeting has to have a leader, a stated purpose, a start and end time, and a valid reason for each and every person to be there. For the same reason as the email argument above, try to avoid scheduling meetings in the mornings so that time can be put toward more creative work.
Note that meetings don’t have to take place inside a four-walled room. Many tools exist that can make open collaboration easier across locations.
Here is a list of the best ones:


Part of the challenge in planning meetings is finding a time during which everyone can get together. If you often meet with large groups and don’t have a shared internal calendar, Doodle can help you quickly find the optimal time for your gathering. 

Google’s Speedy Meetings

Within Settings of your Google calendar, on the General tab, there is a checkbox you can use to make meetings “speedy.” Doing so will end 30-minute meetings five minutes early and 60-minute meetings 10 minutes early by default. Perfect!


This tool is a collaboration tool for to-do lists. You can create a Trello board for a team at your company or for a particular cross departmental project. Typically, Trello includes a backlog of work to be done, a list of projects in progress, and a column of tasks completed. You can easily move tasks across lists and reorder cards to prioritize them. 


I love the internal chat tool HipChat We use it as a home for some of our best impromptu brainstorms and collaborations.
In HipChat, you can have conversations, but you can also join rooms based on certain topics, departments, or challenges, and it is in those chatrooms where the really interesting conversations happen.
I run a monthly mentoring group for serious business people who want more customers, more sales and more profits. Using this tool, we’ve brainstormed ideas, spread breaking news, and discussed the significance of certain ideas and information.  

Box, Dropbox, and Google Drive

When you’re working collaboratively, it helps to be pulling from the same folders and documents. For companies that don’t have a shared drive, these tools can be particularly useful.
Box is best if you are doing a lot of revisions and versions. It helps you ensure that you’re not saving over someone else’s work or accidentally reverting to a past version.
Meanwhile, Dropbox is an ideal tool due to its simplicity. Saving and sharing folders is incredibly easy and intuitive.
And Google Drive can be optimal for multiple people working on the same document at the same exact time. You can see where someone else is in the document and communicate with comments along the side. 
In summary, it is really hard maintaining our own focus. It is far too easy to get lost with a thousand distractions. We should try to carve out time to think and work and really need to keep sharing ideas and tools to make progress with our goal to be as productive and effective as possible.

I would love to hear your comments on this article, as well as sharing any ideas, tips, tricks or tools you use to keep focused.
All the best!
Neil Brewster,