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We have management meetings in the early afternoon twice a week. They are long, boring, and repetitive, and they provide about twenty minutes worth of content in two hours. My problem is that I am having a very hard time staying awake in them. Do you have any suggestions?

Early afternoon meetings have often been regarded as the ultimate cure for insomnia. However, this does not have to be the case.

The first step is to look at your own basic energy level. If you find that you frequently run out of gas in the early afternoon, whether you are at a meeting, your desk, or a ball game, then it's time to focus on your own condition rather than on the condition of the meetings. Issues such as diet, exercise, sleeping patterns, stress, illness, and even job dissatisfaction can be playing a role here.

If you find that your energy level is more than appropriate in most other work and non-work situations, and it is just these meetings that are lulling you into dreamland, there are a number of actions to consider. The best way to stay awake in these meetings is to be an active participant. This can be accomplished in many ways, such as by making a brief presentation, asking questions, responding to questions, or voicing suggestions. By becoming actively involved in the meetings, you are far more likely to stay sharp and alert in them.

Look around at your fellow managers during these meetings. If you see their heads following an erratic downward path that ends with the classical upward jolt, it is safe to assume that they are not being exactly energized by the meetings either. To the extent that this is occurring, you should meet with them to discuss some ways to enliven and streamline these meetings, as well as discuss the possibility of eliminating them or replacing them with teleconferencing. The next step would be to meet with your manager to discuss your suggestions.

For example, if you really have twenty minutes of content in two hours that requires face-to-face interaction, you could suggest that these meetings be held on a stand-up basis, even if held more regularly. Stand-up meetings cut to the issues, keep the lines of communication open, and allow for more direct involvement by the participants. And, they make sleeping a less attractive option, unless the participants are horses.

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