Every week for me starts with a mix of excitement and dread. When it comes down to it, the stir comes from reviewing at my calendar*. It's perpetually populated with a mix of standing meetings (most) and a handful of one-offs such as project kick-offs, coffee catch-ups, performance check-ins, and interventions from our editor on my addiction to hyphens (fewer).
Studies report we spend about 50% of our time in meetings. In a 60 hour work week, that's 30 hours. (I didn't even need Excel for that math.) Many of us feel that's about 30 hours (or more if you count the time spent bitching about the meeting with colleagues) wasted.
In my experience, one-off meetings are typically less bad. It's the standing meetings that kill me. Standardized agendas lack sparkle and most people (if they show up) are only paying attention when it's their turn to report. Little is accomplished. Time slips away. Stevie Nicks is singing Landslide in your head. Not good.
Standing meetings are deeply rooted in how we work that canceling them all at once might cause some disruption in the universe. Instead, one by one you could convert these standing meetings to standing meetings- literally.
A tip I found all over the web to increase office productivity is to host meetings in common areas with sufficient space for people to gather-- standing up. The idea is that people are more fully engaged, the meeting is shorter, and no one risks overturning a chair if they have the urge to flee. Just ignore the eye-rolling and sarcastic comments and give it a shot.
*Warning: Looking at the week ahead too early on a Sunday has the potential to ruin your weekend... and I actually love my job!