Agenda: How to Start the Get Your Time Back Challenge (GYTBC)

The aim of the GYTBC is to provide a framework and possible strategies to help organizations analyze possible inefficiencies due to meetings, interruptions and rework. To start, staff should review the questions/suggested conversation starters. Then, analyze the results looking for common themes and any solutions to address any identified areas for greater productivity. Next, you’ll review the proposed solutions in conjunction with any solutions the group developed themselves. Lastly, discuss as a group which items your organization can commit to in order to help employees and managers reclaim their time.

  1. Share this paper with your colleagues and develop a plan for your office to reduce the consequences of meetings, interruptions, and rework. Here is a simple meeting format you could use:
    a. Choose which topic you want to tackle first and distribute the corresponding paper to your staff: Meetings, Interruptions, or Rework.
    b. The first 10 minutes or so are spent on people silently reading the paper. This way everyone starts with the same information. Often, you can’t count on people reading ahead of time, so you can have the reading time in the meeting itself.
  2. Next, participants spend a few minutes, on their own, making notes about their top ideas for reducing the impact of meetings, interruptions, and rework in the office. These could be ideas from the paper that they liked or ideas they come up with on their own. Research shows that quiet reflection time improves the number and quality of ideas you get from a meeting.
    a. If you have a lot of participants in this meeting, you could break into groups of four and have people discuss what is on their lists. They can look for commonalities between everyone’s lists. Those commonalities would be the obvious ideas to commit to. The group could also agree to things that weren’t on everyone’s list. This group discussion should not take more than ten minutes.
    b. You can then compare notes between the groups. Ideas that were on all the groups’ lists would be top candidates, but it would be fine for the meeting participants to agree to ideas that not every group came up with. If you have a smaller number of total participants, you can follow the same process but without multiple groups.
  3. Wrap up the meeting by writing on a flip chart the new behaviors you and your colleagues will commit to in the future. It could be that too many ideas are generated by the group discussion, potentially being too overwhelming to implement.
    a. If this happens, write all the ideas on the flip chart and use “dotmocracy” or some other method of prioritizing. For dotmocracy, every person gets sticky dots. The number of ideas on the flip chart divided by three is usually a good rule of thumb for the number of dots. Participants then put their dots by their favorite ideas. Ideas with more dots win.
  4. Create milestones and monitor progress
    a. Creating milestones and measuring progress will help to determine if the new practices are having the goals outlined by your group. This will allow your team to assess, discuss progress, and modify your strategy as needed.
  5. At a later date: submit your results of the Get Your Time Back Challenge to GFOA
    a. What did your group agree to do? What type of feedback have you heard from staff? How do you feel that it worked?