At first glance, we should have no trouble fitting three types of work into our days: meetings; independent work; and miscellaneous communications (email, phone calls and quick, one-off chats). However, we all know how easily our days can get derailed. This juggling act gets particularly tough when meetings absorb more than their fair share. This inevitably leads to dropped balls elsewhere.
When we are stretched thin we can either scale back on meetings, reduce other commitments or work more hours. Oftentimes, scaling back on meetings is the most attainable of these options.
Here are five ways to cut back on meetings:
- Send a designate
If you find yourself attending meetings with like-minded colleagues, consider opting out. Can you attend every other meeting or let your colleague take over completely? This approach won’t work if you are trying to mentor your colleague, but work towards letting them take over the reins.
- Partial Time
Your day is stretched already. And yet, there is an item on the agenda that you just can’t miss. Avoid sitting through all the other discussions by asking to have your topic addressed at the beginning or end. All things being equal, I suggest the end of the meeting. Otherwise, the temptation might be to stay for the rest of the meeting.
- Ask for an agenda
If someone was to ask you for $100, your immediate next question would likely be to ask what it was for. When someone asks for some of your time (in the cleverly disguised format of a meeting invite), we need to consider whether this is a good investment. Far too many people simply show up without a clear idea of what they are needed for.
As keen as we are to fit everything in (or despite the pressure we may be facing) some things simply need to be bumped to the following week.
- Just say no
I’d like to let you in on a little life lesson that has been particularly tough for me to learn: we can’t do it all. Try as we might, we simply can’t create any more time in our day. So we need to say no to stuff. Stuff that we enjoy. Stuff that will grow our business. Stuff that we are really good at. We just can’t keep slicing and dicing our time.
In the past, I said yes to every meeting that seemed intriguing. Now I am forced to prioritize those that rank the highest. At the end of the day, I am using my most precious resource – time – in the way that works best for my life.
Hopefully this list helps you to take the edge off of too many meetings. If you have any other suggestions, please add them in the comments. We could all use as much help as we can get in this area!