Have you ever left a meeting feeling great about what was discussed, but wondered why, hours or days later, not much was actually accomplished? Was the momentum you felt real? Or was your productive conversation destined to go nowhere?

It's probably not your imagination. In a survey some years ago, Microsoft found that people spend 5.6 hours a week in meetings and that 71 percent of American workers said that the meetings they participate in "aren't very productive."

The time you spend after a meeting is more critical to your success than you may realize, and it's important not to waste a minute of it. Not sure how to utilize your meetings most effectively? Here are the top four post-meeting action items that are absolutely essential for maximum productivity.

1. Send out meeting notes right away.

Your notes should capture the conversation of the meeting, as well as document all crucial agreements made. Sharing meeting notes makes those who were absent feel included, and informs all on what needs to be accomplished. When you share a meeting summary, attendees and non-attendees alike can have a record of what occurred and what will be done moving forward.

But how helpful are meeting notes if they are shared a week or two later? Keep the ball rolling! Allow meeting participants to move forward right away by sending meeting notes as soon as possible.

2. Follow up.

Sure, a business meeting can be productive and have everyone excited about current and future projects. For maximum productivity and follow through, be sure to follow up after the meeting is done.

Although you may be working with a team of self-starters, remember that busy workers can be pulled in different directions and may be working on other projects in addition to yours. If you want your projects to be finished in a timely manner, consistently follow up with meeting members to ensure they are held accountable for their commitments and that their ideas and assigned action items do not fall by the wayside.

3. Organize minutes.

Sending notes is wildly important, but don't let other helpful documents disappear either. Notes are crucial to send out after a meeting, and it is equally wise to file away and organize copies of agendas and status reports. You can use these for the arrangement of your notes, or for preparing for future agendas and meetings.

4. Stay available and open.

It's easy to want to close off and immerse yourself in your work. Although the tasks you must complete do require a masterful focus, do not close yourself off completely. Communication is key for team and project success. Stay connected -- answer email and your phone, ask questions when needed. Communicate and let your team members know you are available for help should they need it. 

If you're especially busy, your meetings will be stacked. And if you are rushing to different offices every hour, the time you have after one meeting is that much more important, as you may jet off to the next one and forget about the previous get-together entirely.

When you effectively utilize the short period of time immediately after significant business discussions, you will be destined for productivity and success.

Published on: Oct 9, 2018
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.