"Visual information communicates so much more than voice-only, your meetings will move more fluidly," adds Aaron Charles Sylvan, president of Sylvan Social Technology, which helps small businesses develop viral websites. "Also, since it compels both parties to pay attention, calls are brief and to the point -- instead of one person rambling while the other starts checking their email."
Another, seemingly paradoxical, way to reduce the number of pointless meetings is to increase the availability of places to meet, advises Rick Brenner, principal of Chaco Canyon Consulting.
"One of the drivers of periodic team meetings is the need to reserve conference rooms well in advance," he says. "Some teams meet even when there is little real need to meet, just because 'Tuesday at 10 is our regular meeting.' Having plenty of conference rooms eliminates the need to have meetings unless they're justified by the situation."
IT productivity win No. 2: Kill your emailRemember when email and IM were a productivity godsend? Fire off a question and get back to work while somebody else fetched the information you needed.
Those days are over, thanks to the deluge. According to the Radicati Group, the volume of email, IM, and spam is increasing by 20 to 25 percent per year. Managing all those messages is getting in the way of real work.
Rule No. 1: Turn off alerts for new messages so they don't distract you, says Stever Robbins, productivity expert and author of "9 Steps to Work Less and Do More." In other words, check your messages when you want them, not when they want you. Second, close your email and IM clients periodically throughout the day, and let everyone know you're off the electronic leash during those hours.
"You'll give yourself interruption-free brain cycles while still keeping in touch with colleagues as needed," Robbins says. "People can still call you if something's an emergency. And tell people in your email signature, 'I only check email 3 times a day, at 10 a.m., 1 p.m., and 4 p.m. Call if you need something more urgently.'"