Let's be honest: Most people don't like meetings — they're too long, too boring, too frequent and too often don't accomplish much of anything. It's no wonder so many people check out by putting their conference calls on mute and then scroll through emails.
The real problem with meetings, researchers suggest, is that they're usually scheduled on the worst day and time: Monday mornings.
To be fair, it makes sense why so many of us do it anyway. It's the start of the week, so why not gather the team and make sure everyone's on the same page?
But Lynn Taylor, author of "Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job," argues that employees are the most productive on Monday mornings, so it's important not to disrupt their concentration by distracting them with meetings. "Because you've stepped away for a couple days, these back-to-work mornings are the most memorable for the rest of the week," she says.
On top of that, employees are also likely to be out of the office on Mondays, so any meeting scheduled that day will probably have a lot of no shows.
The most optimal time to book a meeting is on Tuesday at 2:30 p.m., according to a study conducted by YouCanBookMe, a U.K.-based scheduling firm. It's not too early in the morning and too late in the week. The team analyzed data from more than two million responses to 530,000 meeting invitations.
If you can't schedule meetings for Tuesdays at 2:30 p.m. on the dot, then mid-afternoon and mid-week meetings are the most ideal.
Time is the most precious commodity for all of us. That's why the most successful CEOs and business leaders always take the "B.L.U.F." (bottom line up-front) approach when it comes to meetings. B.L.U.F. essentially focuses on what needs to be done, who is going to do it and by when.
Here's how to effectively use this approach if you want to make the most out of your meetings:
1. Decide which category the meeting will fall under.
2. The 45-minute rule. A half hour is too short when you spend the first five to seven minutes with small talk. Meeting for an hour can drag things on (I subscribe to the theory that people will take all the time you give them). Forty-five minutes is usually the sweet spot. During that time, look for solutions that are 80 percent right and 100 percent executable versus the other way around.
3. Materials "in advance" means more than three minutes' notice: If you've got prep materials for the meeting, you have to give people a day or two to review. Flipping through presentation slides together as a group, and for the first time, is a waste of time.
4. Open with purpose, close with action. Just as you set expectations for what you want to accomplish at the open (the B.L.U.F. approach), bring the meeting to a close with an action plan. Before they walk out that door or disconnect from the conference call, everyone must know what's expected of them — and by when.
5. Is it even a meeting? If you simply need to get to the bottom of what's really going on, it's not necessary to call it a "meeting." For urgent matters, it's appropriate to stop by someone's office (or call them) unannounced. By catching people in the moment, you'll find that they're less guarded and more likely to tell you things unscripted and unrehearsed.
Gary Burnison is the CEO of Korn Ferry, a global consulting firm that helps companies select and hire the best talent. His latest book, a New York Times best-seller, "Lose the Resume, Land the Job, " shares the kind of straight talk that no one – not a spouse, partner, mentor or anyone else – will tell you. Follow him on LinkedIn here.
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