One reason you're successful: you know how to manage your time.

But time management means more than handling email efficiently or cutting meetings in half. It means adopting the right culture for managing workflow.

At my firm, example, we learned how to save substantial amounts of time and dramatically reduce workload by creating a specific process for producing client-facing documents--everything from a brochure to a new-account form. Every document involves three groups: the team needing the item, the graphic design team that produces it, and the Compliance Department that must approve everything prior to use.

Before creating our document-production protocol, staff members wasted huge amounts of time and money by working in the wrong order. They'd give drafts to Compliance before the text was approved by management. Or the design team would be ignored altogether, forcing "completed" materials to be re-printed (correctly, this time). By streamlining the process and teaching everyone how to adapt the workflow process, we can produce materials more quickly, more easily and less expensively--and with higher quality, too.

You might may need to change some of your processes, too. Start by asking yourself these questions:

Does each meeting have a goal? Decide in advance the outcome you expect for each meeting. Make sure all participants understand the goal, and demand that the goal be achieved within the time allotted.

Do you hold status meetings? One employee once said to me, "We need to get everyone together so we can decide when to meet." That's a sign that meetings are out of control. Consider creating a way for managers to post updates everyone can access at will. That alone can eliminate a 1-hour meeting. Consider seven managers, each earning $100,000, who meet one hour per week. Kill that meeting and you gain 364 hours of annual productivity while saving $18,200.

Do you discuss or do you decide? If your meetings are filled with tedious PowerPoint presentations, everyone's time is being wasted. That deck should be distributed prior to the meeting--so that decisions can be made. If you're not making decisions at your meetings, something is wrong.

Does every agenda item count? Endless lists of topics are pointless. Decide what is most important to your business, focus on those items--and ditch everything else. Keep your team focused. This means being willing to say no when someone raises new topic.

Is everyone in the meeting essential? If not, they shouldn't be there. Remember, time spent in meeting is an investment in your business. If an investment isn't generating a return, stop making the investment. In other words, stop inviting people to meetings they don't need to attend.

Meetings can propel your company forward. If your meetings aren't accomplishing this, you need to fix it.

Just don't call a meeting to talk about it.

Published on: May 12, 2016