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Bates: Don’t waste time at work with nonessential tasks

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT

I read an article in “The Economist” this week that really hit home. Titled “Decluttering a Company,” what intrigued me was how much time I waste dealing with nonessential tasks that detract from the job of running the chamber. I will share two of these frustrations here.

Meetings: In my business, I can easily attend more meetings than hours in a work day.  Often, I find myself in meetings from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Now, when I first started in my position, attending every meeting for every activity was important as I needed to soak myself in the chamber. But 10 years later, should I still be attending these same meetings? This needed to be solved, so about five years ago, I studied some of the meetings I was attending to determine where a talented staff person could be sufficient, where high-talent committee chairs were better without me (humbling) and where revenue brought in by the activity did not demand my attendance. In addition, some of the chamber activities and events through the years have been eliminated because they were not important to membership nor chamber goals.

Thus, I was able to scale down some of the meetings I attended to those that held high value to the chamber. I also changed meeting formats and agendas, making certain that they did not run over an hour. Truly, people cannot focus more than that period of time. I also worked with staff to keep attendees from deviating from subject matter.

Emails: If this isn’t clutter, I don’t know what is. Remember the old days when we all used the phone and handled matters in one call. Not today. What used to be one call now takes a dozen emails. Sadly and comically, some office workers send emails to their peers instead of walking a few feet to ask a question.

Do we ever think how much time is wasted writing emails, reading emails and replying to these emails a dozen times a day? This is ludicrous, and I may never solve the email issue. It’s business’s preferred communication. 

Simplify life at work. Review time spent on nonessentials, delegate where you can and don’t ever believe email saves time.  

• • •

The McHenry Area Chamber of Commerce has a number of upcoming events.

The Country Meadows Wine and Craft Show offers an opportunity for the chamber’s small businesses to meet the public. Be part of our vendor portion and gain access to the community. The date of this traditional craft show is Sept. 21 at Veterans Park. For information, visit the chamber’s website, www.mchenrychamber.com. This is the first year the chamber has partnered with the River Walk Foundation for a “Back to Class with Class and Character” Fashion Show at 1 p.m. at Riverside Drive Bridge.

There will be a multi-chamber mixer Aug. 26 at Pioneer’s new office on Veteran’s Parkway.

Next up is a mixer Sept. 2 at CorporateIT Department. The Barbecue Bingo is Sept. 9.   

Our next Never Eat Alone lunch is Sept. 12 at Cucina Rosa Italian Restaurant with a menu consisting of old favorites for a price of $11; beverage, tax and tip included.  

And save the date for the chamber’s first Radical River Rally on Sept. 13, the WINGs woman’s professional group’s Table Talk on Sept. 17 and the Networking Scramble on Nov 7.

• Kay Rial Bates is president of the McHenry Area Chamber of Commerce. Reach her at 815-385-4300 or visit mchenrychamber.com.

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