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Overloaded With Meetings? Here’s What to Do

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Like it or not, meetings are a part of working life. Meetings are where decisions are made, projects are allocated, announcements are shared, etc. But that's what an ideal meeting looks like – there's action, and something moves forward. The reality is that not all meetings are really that productive. Some meetings are just a drain on everyone's time and actually get in the way of you performing your job.

Like it or not, meetings are a part of working life. Meetings are where decisions are made, projects are allocated, announcements are shared, etc. But that’s what an ideal meeting looks like – there’s action, and something moves forward. The reality is that not all meetings are really that productive. Some meetings are just a drain on everyone’s time and actually get in the way of you performing your job.

(Photo Credit: reynermedia/Flickr)

Here are a few ways to manage the meetings on your calendar:

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1. Check to see if each meeting on your calendar has an agenda. If not, ask for a detailed agenda and what the meeting requester hopes to achieve in the time frame. Request the objectives and ask how you can come prepared to save time for all of the participants. Through this subtle message, you will communicate to the organizer that you do not want your time to be wasted either.

2. Ask if the discussion can be closed through a different format: discussion over email, a quick phone call or an online survey, etc, versus meeting face to face.

3. Prioritize your goals and let the organizer know your priorities are different from the meeting. You could clearly point out that you are working on a few projects that need to be completed on a priority basis and that you would prefer meeting on this at a later time. You could also suggest they send you an email with meeting notes so that you are aware of what was discussed. If you are important to the meeting, then you can expect an email to check your availability, at which point, you have control over your calendar. If you are not, then the meeting will go on without you and you’ll just get the notes. In either case, it is a win-win for you.

4. Get your manager’s buy-in. Let your manager know how you are handling your schedule and how you plan on managing meetings. If your manager also agrees with your priorities, then it is easier to handle any escalations because of your absence in meetings.

5. Have a dedicated meeting day. Mattel Griffel, co-founder and CEO of One Month, suggests dedicating Wednesdays as the day of meetings. It falls in the middle of the week, giving you time to get work done in the first and second half of the week.  

“The net result of doing meetings one day per week is having long, uninterrupted blocks of time during the other days that lets you be incredibly productive,” he writes at Forbes.

6. Set an example. Make sure that when you organize meetings, you are very clear about the objectives. Evaluate whether the meeting can be avoided and if there is a better way to meet those objectives. If you do have the meeting, stick to the schedule of the meeting – make it absolutely clear what it is that you want from the meeting, keep the discussion on track and follow up with any action items. If meetings have been rescheduled to suit your schedule, make sure that you are contributing to the meeting objectives and are engaged in the discussion. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you! 

Tell Us What You Think

How do you handle the problem of “too many meetings”? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Padmaja Ganeshan Singh
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