Too many meetings and not enough time for your actual work? Here are 7 hands-on tips:
You jump from one meeting to the next, adding more and more to-dos without getting any of them done. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to reduce the time you spend in meetings, and increase the productivity of the ones you do attend?
At audvice we are a fully remote team that actively decided to not give in to Zoom fatigue or fully packed calendars. We found ways to get more done, sit in fewer meetings, but still stay perfectly connected across different countries:
#1 Review recurring meetings
If you want to decrease meeting time for you and your team, but you don’t really know where to start, it might be a good idea to look over your recurring meetings. Often, we keep such meetings in our calendars out of habit. But just because they were useful at one point doesn’t mean they still are. So make sure to check if these meetings are still necessary, or if they need to be adapted (in terms of participants, duration or date) or even canceled. At audvice, we constantly adapt our weekly check-ins, and make sure to implement changes if we see space for improvement.
#2 Reduce participants
When it comes to meetings, "the more the merrier" isn't the case.
When it comes to meetings, “the more, the merrier” isn’t the case. Because the more people attend a meeting, the more time is spent coordinating it. Too many participants could also lead to miscommunication: people will be less likely to ask questions or bring up important points. If they do, it might not be relevant for everyone, leading some participants to lose interest and start multitasking on their phones. On the other hand, fewer participants generally lead to shorter meetings which are more focused on tangible goals. So it does make sense to take some time and think about who should actually be invited.
#3 Send out an agenda beforehand
The majority of meetings fail because expectations are not properly set in advance. Drafting and sharing an agenda beforehand can be tedious, but the added clarity and time saved in the meeting is well worth it. The agenda doesn’t need to be long and super detailed, but every participant should get a good overview of what the overall goal of the meeting is, what they need to prepare and what is expected of them. If everyone is briefed beforehand, there won’t be a need for a long intro in the beginning. At audvice, we brief colleagues asynchronously before meetings with short voice messages that come neatly organized in the form of playlists.
#4 Block time for deep work sessions
Meetings are no use if you have no time for productive work sessions. I bet you all know the feeling:
You're deeply focused on a certain task and get a reminder that you have a call in half an hour. Suddenly, poof - you're focus is gone.
That's why it’s crucial to block “deep work” times in your calendar where you won’t attend any meetings. This is a time to handle all the tasks that have been discussed in meetings, in order to ensure you have some serious progress to report in the next ones. It makes sense to think about the “when and where’s” for these blocks. Are you a morning or evening person? Where can you concentrate best? Make sure to find a setting that helps you to be as productive as possible.
#5 Find ways for asynchronous communication
Keeping track of your projects, and being in the loop where your colleagues are at with their tasks, is important, but that doesn’t always require meetings. At audvice, we believe that one of the most efficient ways to decrease meeting time, and reach your colleagues faster and better, is to implement tools and processes for asynchronous communication. Our team uses audvice for project updates.
We record a playlist and every new team member adds one track to give an update, so we can all listen to it at our own pace and ideally before or after we enter deep-work-mode.
That doesn’t even need to happen at your desk: it can be on the way to get coffee, while driving or commuting, or when taking your dog for a walk.
#6 Explore other forms of communication
Too much for slack and too little for an email? Sometimes it’s easier said than done (or written!) That’s how you can reach people better and faster, and that’s what we built audvice for. You can record, listen and organize voice messages, structure them in playlists and share them with your team, partners or customers. audvice helps establish a better meeting culture by moving updates, briefings or onboardings to well-structured playlists you collect in your team’s audio space or share across your communication channels. Plus, you can be sure that what you share gets the necessary context and personal note to avoid misunderstandings.
#7 Don’t be afraid to say no
Last but not least, it’s important to mention that you have every right to decline meetings where you feel like your participation is unnecessary. Sitting in a meeting you don’t have anything to add to, while half-heartedly trying to empty your inbox at the same time or thinking about what tasks you are going to tackle next, doesn’t help anyone. That's why it’s sometimes better to politely decline a meeting than to accept it just because you’re worried it would look bad. In order to spend less time in meetings, try speaking up if you think a certain meeting could have a clearer agenda or purpose. Even though that might feel uncomfortable at first, your colleagues will thank you afterwards, as it also means more productive work time for them.
And let's be honest: who wouldn't appreciate fewer meetings?
Now that hybrid and remote teams are becoming more omnipresent all around the world, it’s particularly important to consider your meeting schedule. Adapting and improving your schedule to maximize productivity is an iterative process. That means finding the right balance between productive meetings and productive work sessions. audvice can help you with that. Make sure to sign up on our waitlist and get early access.