If you've ever worked at a startup, for a startup, or with a startup, then you know the pace at which these companies work. You come in at 8 am and usually find yourself wondering how it's already 5 pm. There's just not enough hours in a day.

And with a day packed with team meetings, or the 'daily scrum,' your day is even shorter, with less time to knock out tasks. So, how can your company be at the peak of its productivity, while also checking the day's meetings off the to-do list? The same way CEOs like Elon Musk and Richard Branson are able to get work done.

Make meetings shorter--a maximum of 20 minutes.

I like 20-minute meetings because telling someone externally that you only have 15 minutes is rude. Offering 20 minutes implies that you are having three meetings an hour, and if they run short you can keep the extra 10 minutes to collect your thoughts, catch up on a few emails or take a break.

Meetings can be tough to coordinate, especially when members of your team are based in different time zones, but they're important to have. It's also important that they're conducted in an effective and productive way.

For those looking to make subtle company changes in hopes of boosting productivity for 2018, here's why changing the length of your meetings is a great place to start:

Employees have more time to focus on tasks.

Depending on the size of your company, this may be the biggest benefit to shortened meetings. There are a lot of articles covering the effectiveness of meetings and most come to the same conclusion: most employees say meetings aren't effective because they're overwhelmed when in them.

At the senior level, it's been reported that executives spend almost 23 hours a week in meetings. Cutting meeting times down can boost the amount of work employees complete each day, adding dollars to the bottom-line.

Employees will be more productive.

When employees only have 20-minutes with their managers, or the rest of their team, it forces them to get to the point quickly. Instead of fumbling around for the first 5 minutes, meetings start with what's most important.

This sense of urgency will ensure that employees are prepared to discuss the topic at hand, have the required info ready to go and have their thoughts on the matter locked in. This will lead to higher quality of work and collaboration within your workplace. It also doesn't waste valuable time. Now employees can get marching orders in a short amount of time, and then leave the meeting and get it done.

My tip for more productivity: if it's a meeting that can be completed just as effectively via email--cancel it. Employees and colleagues will appreciate it.

Employees do more, faster.

At Techstars, one of our mottos is "Do More Faster," and the way our meetings are conducted reflects this. By keeping meetings to 20 minutes or less you're giving less time for teams to provide an update and get feedback, forcing teams to come to a meeting with a purpose. This makes team updates quick, concise, and valuable, ultimately allowing teams more hours in the day to complete the next task at-hand.

I often say that meetings expand to fill all available (scheduled) time, so might as well keep them short!

Published on: Jan 10, 2018