stop spending too much time in meetings

#46: This is how you stop going from one meeting to the next

The one crucial element for remote teams

If you want to increase agility and engagement within your organization – and you have been following me for a longer time – you know that empowerment is the one essential element to achieve that. Especially now, with most of us working remotely and endlessly going from one virtual meeting to the next. 

That’s why we decided to develop a brand new course, Leading to empowerment for remote hybrid and face-to-face teams that you can start today! If you feel your time has come to reset with a new mindset, better-suited business techniques, and leadership habits in order to have more impact, more meaning, and more balance, check out the link below!

According to a 13,000 people study by Asana, one of the top reasons why people worked more in 2020, is because they were always stuck, going from one virtual meeting to the next. In today’s podcast, I focus on giving you tips to get out of those dreadful meetings or making them way more efficient by using empowerment. That way, you can spend more time increasing your energy and stepping back in order to achieve more balance!

This is how you stop going from one meeting to the next

1-   Ask for an agenda of a meeting

The first thing you should always do is ask for an agenda of the meeting you’re invited to. That way, you can look at the points and see if you are really needed in that meeting or if you can bring added value. If you cannot bring any added value, well, you simply should not be present at the meeting. This brings me to my second tip.

2-   Say no more, in function of what you want to achieve

Many meetings are made out of habits and you may have been invited out of politeness. Maybe you still want to be present to get more visibility or maybe you want to be at the meeting because something might come up that concerns you. This is where you have to learn to say no. If you see in the agenda that you probably cannot be of any value at the meeting, say no. If you have some difficulties saying no under pressure, don’t worry. I have made an entire podcast episode (43) to help you with that. You can find it by clicking on the link below!

3-   Be on standby, should you be necessary

If you are worried that you might miss something that concerns you, but you don’t have to be present for the entire meeting, just be on standby! You can work on other things, but tell the people in the meeting that they can call you if a point is brought up that concerns you. That way, an hour of meeting can be reduced to the ten minutes where your presence is needed. 

4-   Send a colleague instead of the whole department

There are many meetings that can concern an entire team. Out of habit, often the whole team is present at that meeting. But is that really necessary? It can save the team so much time if only one colleague is sent to the meeting. That colleague can then later briefly inform the team of the dues and important points. Instead of five people losing one hour, only one person has to be present at the meeting and can give the rest of the team feedback in a couple of minutes.

5-   Use a project management tool

This tip is one that I wish I had learned a lot sooner. In order to void having lots of meetings and sending lots of emails, you should use a project management tool. At Qili, we use Asana. We put all our to-do’s in the tool and then once a week, we sit together and agree on what everyone is going to do that week. By using the tool, everyone knows exactly who is working on what and if they are finished yet. When working on projects, we are often interdependent on other teams and departments. One person has to do a step and another person has to continue with the work later on. By using a project management tool to check out how far along the person is, you save a lot of time, comparing to having to contact them via a meeting or via mail.

6-   Foresee better meeting slots to give space for breaks

Instead of planning 30 or 60 minutes meetings, try changing it to respectively 20 minutes and 40 minutes. This way, instead of starting a meeting at, let’s say 12:00, you can start it at 12:10 and allow everyone to take a ten-minute break, in case they just finished a meeting. That break allows you to grab something to drink, rethink a couple of things, go to the bathroom, and also allows you to simply walk around and stretch your legs for a bit. This tip is now more important than it was before, as before, you had to physically go from meeting to meeting, but now, many people don’t even leave their desks for hours. That isn’t healthy!

7-   Agree on common uninterrupted focus time with your team

This is an important one. Planning uninterrupted focus time has a lot of benefits. It gives everyone in your team the time to focus on a single thing, without being interrupted by other projects or meetings. Research has shown that it costs you up to 40% more time to multitask. By having uninterrupted focus time where you can really focus on delivering one thing at a time, you will be more productive and save time. There are already many teams that plan these moments, but exceptions keep coming up and end up taking that time away. It is understandable to sometimes have an exception, but that should not be a regular occurrence. So if you want to plan in these moments, set yourself a limit of exceptions. I can recommend you to set that number to once a week and don’t change it, because that uninterrupted focus time is a must for every team to become more efficient and productive!

8-   Block time slots for yourself

This next tip is one that I don’t see many people do but is one that should not at all be put aside: block time slots for yourself in your calendar. You should see these moments as important meetings with yourself that cannot be canceled. Because the more blocks you plan for yourself, the more unplanned breaks you will have to take. You can use these blocks for doing some analyses, for thinking, for breathing, or whatever you feel is necessary for you. By planning in these moments for yourself, other people won’t plan meetings if they see you are busy at that time.

Remember that being in a meeting all the time is not a proxy of your involvement or seriousness in the organization. Being busy all the time doesn’t make you important, we shouldn’t glorify busyness. I hope these tips helped you to create more time for yourself and your team, while still having a great impact!

qileader authentic leadership

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