Jeff Bezos' 'two pizza rule' can help you hold more productive meetings

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American companies hold an estimated 11 million meetings every day. That's a lot of hours in the conference room.

Meetings may be an inescapable aspect of work culture, but Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos remains skeptical of their benefit. After all, he says just one person with a bad attitude can "drain all the energy out of the room."

To avoid these time-wasting gatherings and ensure that his schedule is only filled with meetings that are worth his time, Bezos follows a very strict rule of thumb. In addition to convening with Amazon investors for just six hours a year and avoiding early morning meetings, Business Insider reports that the self-made billionaire has a "two pizza rule" that helps him to banish unnecessary gatherings from his schedule.

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While, sadly, the rule does not mandate that pizza be present at meetings, it does mean that Bezos won't call a meeting, or even go to a meeting, if two pizzas wouldn't feed the entire group.

Research shows that fewer meetings can boost employee and organizational productivity, and many other leaders have methods like Bezos' for reigning in what they see as time-wasting gatherings.

Basecamp CEO Jason Fried uses a similar strategy at his company, which he says allows his employees to stick to a strict 32-hour workweek schedule during the summer, and a 40-hour workweek during the rest of the year.

"People are always surprised by that," he tells CNBC Make It, "and I tell them you can get plenty of stuff done in 32 and 40 hours if you cut out all the stuff that's taking up your time."

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According to a Harvard Business Review study that examined the Outlook calendars of multiple workers at a large company, consecutive weekly meetings can consume as many as 300,000 hours a year of employees' time.

That's why Fried says there are no mandatory regular meetings for Basecamp employees, and like Bezos, any meeting that does take place includes only a small group of attendees.

"I can probably count on one hand how many times we've had a meeting with more than four people," says Fried. "Less people helps a meeting to move a lot faster."

This is an updated version of a story that appeared previously.

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