When we simply have too many meetings to attend, there are a few things we can do to free up some space for other tasks.
There are too many
You can reserve time that will be kept free from meetings, for instance during eight flexible, recurring hours which you schedule in the calendar every week and keep clear of meetings.
Another idea is to set a limit to how many meetings you can allow yourself to have in a day. Will you limit it to two, three or four?
Or, ensure that you have one day every week that has absolutely no meetings. How would you for instance use your Thursdays differently if they were completely devoid of meetings?
You will not have to run between meetings if you make it a habit to always block 30 minutes both before and after any new meetings you schedule in the calendar. Good for keeping stress-levels down.
They are too long
Perhaps it is not the number of meetings you have a problem with, but their average length. Make any meetings you are in charge of yourself shorter. Schedule 45 minutes instead habitually scheduling an hour, and ensure that you get through what you need to do in that time by having a clear, time-specific agenda.
Ask yourself what meetings you could replace by communication through some other medium, email for instance, so that you do not have to restrict yourself in time and space in the same way as a meeting requires you to when it is not absolutely necessary.
Some just need to go
”To meet” is a verb just like ”to write”, ”to send”, ”to call” and ”to report”, and can hence be subject to prioritization in the same way all our other to-do-tasks are. Do not just accept a request for a meeting only because you had free space in the calendar when asked to congregate, but judge it by its importance set in relation to the goals you are responsible for, how urgent it is and what other tasks you have to do.
Either turn down the meetings that are not a priority at the moment, or accept the invitation, but decide to meet some other time.
If all meetings are important, justified and relevant to your work and responsibilities, you might need to cut back on some of your commitments or delegate tasks to someone else. There is a limit to how much we can do and achieve by ourselves. And although that limit can be flexible, and you might stretch it to its breaking-point at times, it is still there.
If you often feel that you are running behind schedule and do not have time for all your engagements and responsibilities since meetings are eating away at your time, try one of the ideas mentioned above. They are derived from real-life situations experienced by others I have helped throughout the years and who were also in desperate need for time kept free from meetings.
The tips have all worked for different people faced with different scenarios, and even if they might not all be appropriate to you or your situation, perhaps one of them will help you get the space you need in your calendar.
More time, less overtime
It is important to meet and discuss things in person, but you have many other tasks to do as well. If you create more space for other things than meetings you will have time to do these tasks during your workdays instead of during evenings and weekends. Personally, this gives me a greater sense of satisfaction and wellbeing, instead of feeling stressed and inadequate when overwhelmed by all the tasks I have to finish after working hours — and I’m sure the same goes for you.
What suits you?
How have you established and maintained a balance between meetings and time kept free from meetings? Write a comment and share with other readers.