The average employee spends 31 hours a month in unproductive meetings. Yawn. Here’s how to get the most out of your next one.

STAND UP

A study of sit-down meetings versus stand-up meetings by Washington University in the US compared the ability of participants to share ideas, work together and produce quality work. The results showed that those standing up had greater collaboration on ideas and were more enthusiastic about creative processes.

DITCH THE DEVICES

Students who take notes by hand have a clearer understanding of what’s being discussed than those who take notes on their laptop, shows a study of college students at the University of California. Bring a notepad and pen to your next meeting, and leave your smartphone at your desk.

STOP AT 18 MINUTES

Scientists have found that the human brain can pay real attention to something for only between 10 and 18 minutes before it tunes out. The longer a meeting goes on, the less you’re concentrating.

SET A TIMER

If you can’t get colleagues to stick to the 18-minute rule, try a timer. Research shows that having a strict time constraint makes people more creative and productive than when they have no time limits.

START WITH SOMETHING POSITIVE

Starting a meeting with a positive statement makes it more likely that people will listen and agree with each other, shows US research. The study revealed that when the first thing said was critical, colleagues were less likely to listen and more likely to be argumentative.