Too many meetings on your schedule mean low productivity with all of your other work. You really can learn how to reduce your workload of meetings — and still make your meetings a success.
Zoom drowsy? Tired? Exhaustion? You may be hosting, attending, or leading too many meetings.
In some instances, a video or email might substitute (you can align thoughts, explore solutions, and even plan the next fiscal year).
The probability of having more than one meaningless or time-wasting gathering every day increases when we have too many meetings on our schedule. Remote work doesn’t mean you’re remote from meeting miasma.
Fortunately, there is something you can do. You will spend your time on more productive projects with the support of your teammates. Why are you getting together too much?
First, let’s explore the why of too many meetings
Why is your weekday filled with phone calls, Zoom meetings, and huddles? Many explanations exist for why you can’t get anything done — and the main issue seems to be that you and your team are continually in meetings.
Somehow — the corporate world developed a practice of inviting everyone to meetings. And thankfully, there has been enough information collected now that you know to only invite them if you believe you need to include them. Too many meetings will touch on anything and any work that an employee is working on. That goes for gatherings when you aren’t the host or meeting coordinator.
We sometimes assume we’re simply being courteous and covering all bases by inviting everyone — but squandering time by having too many chefs or participants in the kitchen (or meetings) isn’t benefiting anybody — including yourself.
If someone asks you to a virtual meeting and your first thought is, “I don’t need to be there,” let your employees be in charge of themselves — and decline. As an employee, you will want to send a message to the host expressing your choice not to attend and ask if they will update you by sending out a “roundup” of talking points afterward. If the host or meeting coordinator is okay with that — fantastic!
Though, some coordinators get a little touchy about requests for the meeting notes — so be cautious.
Some sessions should be conducted differently
For example — maybe the meeting should have been an email, a quick phone call, or an instant message. Too many team members inside your business are squandering time in poorly planned meetings that may have functioned better in another medium.
Unnecessary gatherings per day
We understand that the number of confabs you have every day varies based on your title or job inside the firm. For example — the higher-ups have to complete one-on-ones and project syncs that last 30 minutes to an hour. You have managers and team leaders that have similar constraints.
No matter who you are, don’t exceed 3-4 meetings per day — and keep them short. Also, consider your productivity. Ask yourself whether you work better in the afternoons or mornings. Avoid scheduling meetings during your most productive times.
Avoid too many meetings
Follow these four ways to avoid attending a million meetings a day — or at least cut down the time.
1. Cancel meetings with no agenda
2. Cancel if they have not posted meeting times two business days in advance
3. Skip Asynchronous communication for meetings — all communication must be in real-time
4. Shorten all meetings
As the boss, you will want to make sure these rules apply — and everyone will do better in the business if you stick by your own rules. So, prepare your agenda ahead of time and share it with your employees. Make sure all attendees come prepared with discussion topics, questions, and fast descriptions of their circumstances. It’s helpful to ask that all questions and descriptions be written down (this saves more time than you can imagine).
Without a plan and understanding of your work in detail — a meeting may not be necessary.
With an easy-to-use meeting agenda creator, everyone feels motivated to participate.
Likely, there is a time when you and your team are most productive — don’t stick a meeting right in the middle of your most productive times.
Some people do most of their work — and their best work, between 8 a.m. and 12 p.m. So you know it’s in your best interest and the welfare of your to-do list to block off some “no meeting” time before lunch.
This historical period might be vague. Mark “Busy” on your calendar and other team members will know not to schedule a time during that period.
Another way is to set aside one day a week for meetings and have none on any other day. Inform meeting organizers that you only attend sessions on Tuesdays or Wednesdays. In this way, you will maximize your productivity on the other days of the week.
Determine if you will allow asynchronous communication
Some teams consider using asynchronous communication as a better way for them. Try it if it works — and if not — skip it and make other rules. Some teams work with Slack or Outlook in real-time communication, and these are solid communication tools that work (along with others you can find online).
Your remote team communication may be difficult — but understanding the differences between your at-office team and your remote team can increase productivity throughout both groups. Synchronous communication is about communicating right now, in the now, such as in face-to-face meetings, Zoom session, or phone conversations. These may be the only type of communication that works well for your particular team.
Your asynchronous communication occurring through email, instant chat, or project management platforms may be best for your team. The latter often saves time by eliminating the need to arrange anything. The team can then communicate at their leisure without interruption. This strategy is beneficial if your teammates are in a different time zone.
Conclusion — Now or never
If all else fails, be like Douglas Shearer — a Hollywood screenwriter who avoided dull-story conferences by keeping a pet tarantula on his shoulder. He never got invited to meetings.
Maybe you should try something similar.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by Rodnae Productions; Pexels; Thank you!