One of the most universal experiences in the work world involves attending meetings. Another universal experience is complaining about them. Meetings, it has been said, are where ideas go to die. They’re what people do when they don’t want to do anything. They’re a colossal waste of time. Yet, despite all that bad-mouthing, millions of meetings are scheduled and attended every day.
Researchers have measured the amount of time organizations devote to meetings. Care to guess howmuch? According to a statistic published in the Harvard Business Review, a full 15 percent of work time is spent in meetings. If that number is anywhere close to accurate, it’s high time someone did something to make meetings more effective. At least that’s the thinking behind a Mac app called Agenda Minder.
Now, you don’t need software to create agendas. People have been scribbling them by hand since the days of clay tablets. But the makers of Agenda Minder, a personal productivity tool for meetings, have added a couple of twists appropriate to our modern age. They’ve put an emphasis on stating an objective for every meeting, and indeed every meeting agenda item. Plus they’ve made it simple and fast to share agendas, even with people who don’t have the app or use Mac or iOS platforms.
Agenda Minder has a simple, minimalist look and feel. With only a small number of functions, it’s easy and intuitive to learn. Meetings are listed on the left side of the app’s workspace either alphabetically or by date. Take your choice. They can also be filtered to show only those from the past day, month, year or other variations on time. Each meeting is assigned a date and has a space to record logistics (i.e. a place to list meeting participants, venue, communications channels etc.) and a space to state the objective.
As agenda items are added, the user is once again given the opportunity to title each one and define its objective. Agenda items for a specific meeting appear in a list on the right side of the workspace. Fields are available where the organizer can fill in an objective for each item, add notes, assign a leader and stipulate a discussion time limit measured in minutes. Meetings are easy to delete by clicking on a trash icon, while hitting backspace is all it takes to eliminate items. Agenda items can also be reordered by clicking the up and down chevrons.
One of Agenda Minder’s greatest strengths is its simple process for sharing agendas. Press the Share icon at the top right of the workspace, and up pops a secondary dialog box with four formatting choices. The choices range from simple text to detailed formatted text, which is still pretty streamlined.
Click the envelope icon at the bottom of the dialog box to create an email message with the agenda details laid out in the chosen format. Or, choose print and the agenda will appear on paper. (You can also cut items before you print or email the agenda.)
Email sharing allows people to access agendas on their mobile devices despite the fact that Agenda Minder doesn’t offer an iOS companion version. Plus, people can access agendas even if they use other platforms. (As a matter of interest, I reviewed a pure iOS agenda app called Agenda Maker in issue #40 of SCO magazine.)
Considering Agenda Minder’s price, more features would be welcome. It would be useful, for instance, if there was a way to easily convert an agenda into a set of minutes. Of course, an iOS version would be a step forward for mobile users. And while we’re at the wishing well, let’s hope the developer plans to make data entry more user friendly. At present, only one line of text is visible when typing into the logistics, objective and notes fields. But, even as the app stands now, Agenda Minder is on the right track in terms of providing Mac users with an easy to use tool for making meetings more productive.
Agenda Minder is available in the Mac App Store for $11.99