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[contextly_auto_sidebar id="SjFLjvhhMXrlpMuhqxQpibCzHIKzpyat"]If I look at my published work over the years, I'm quite hard on meetings. But I still believe they're a powerful team productivity tool.

The trouble is that we've become complacent about meetings. Somewhere along the line, we were taught that an in-person meeting (or, increasingly, a videoconference) is the only way to get things done in groups.

Complacency enables stagnancy. And, as Peter Diamandis says, standing still equals death.

So what used to be effective standups, or weekly check-ins, or project reviews, slowly devolve. Effective, supercharged, short meetings begin to bleed over the allotted meeting window, or veer off-topic. They become dreaded productivity-killers, time spans that you wish you had back at the end of a long workday or workweek.

It's no secret that I believe most teams could delete most meetings. But meetings aren't the core problem. It's the way we respect each other's time that needs a change.

Many of us treat a teammate's time like a blank check from a billionaire's bank. We automatically pop meetings and calls on teammates' calendars without a second thought, because, well, the calendar says they're free.

But time is never really free.

How would your schedule change if you could levy a "wasted time" fine on a teammate, client or vendor? Would a penalty incentivize people to respect each other's time?

We'll never know, but one thing's for sure: how teams treat each other's time is the biggest barrier to their productivity.

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