There were days and weeks where every moment of my 9 hour workday was filled with meetings. I toured the office going from room to room to interface, gather information and pile on tasks for my to-do list. Meanwhile, hundreds of emails are pouring into my inbox that I do not have time to address. As a result, it leaves me obligated to check emails after I have put my little ones to bed. If I am describing your work day, here are a few tricks I started doing. I still have a lot of meetings but by being smarter about meeting protocol, I’ve gotten time back. Most importantly, family time back.
- Block off desk time. If you need to dedicate brainpower to a single project, block off time. This lets people know you are not available and it’s a visual cue to you reminding yourself to dedicate time to the priority.
- Color code your calendar invites. I color all in person meetings green. All phone calls are teal and desk time is blue. It has helped me to get to in person meeting on time because I know if it’s green, I must physically move around the building.
- No Meeting Days. Establish a day of the week where you do not take meetings. If your organization is meeting heavy, start with a half day. Block off the recurring chunk of time in advance so others know to plan around it. Even better, have your team or even the entire organization adopt the same chunk of time. The biggest benefit of an organization wide “No Meeting Day” is everyone will be at their desk so real time collaboration can take place. We have all been there. We really need to talk to someone but we can’t because they are always stuck in meetings. And because they are always in meetings, they never answer their emails. No Meeting Days will solve for this cat and mouse game.
- Require defined agendas in calendar invites. If you work with someone that sends you blank calendar invites, decline it (or ask for more detail). An efficient meeting can only happen if both parties are prepared. I recommend including an agenda and a desired outcome statement in all meeting invites.
- Meetings are for decision making. Al Pittampalli’s book, Read This Before Your Next Meeting: How We Can Get More Done is genius. My biggest takeaway from this read is the overall message which is all meetings should be like a Daytona 500 pitstop. It’s a time to refuel, recharge and make decisions to progress forward. Question those boring status meetings that drain everyone in the room. If those status updates can be shared via another forum, do it. There are a plethora of tools like Asana and Monday.com where teams can communicate updates in a streamlined manner.
The beauty of Read This Before Your Next Meeting: How We Can Get More Done is it will take you less than 45 minutes to read it. It’s an extremely short book filled with principles that will lessen your workload, relieve stress and yield productive workdays. At least for me, that’s what it did.