Kay Bates Profile

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Kay Rial Bates serves as President of the McHenry Area Chamber of Commerce.

Eliminating Work “Clutter”

I read an article in The Economist this week that really hit home called “Decluttering a Company.”  What intrigued me was how much time I waste dealing with non-essentials that detract from the job of running the chamber.  I will share two of these frustrations:

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 am to 9:00 pm.   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 ten years later and still attending these same meetings?   Hmm……     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 important to neither 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, now our offices send emails to our peers instead of walking three feet and asking 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 non essentials, delegate where you can and don’t ever believe email saves time.

  • Northwestern Medicine
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