time and meetings

Escape from Meetings

In Leadership, Productivity, Time Management, Tips and Tricks, Working Smarter by hardorsmartLeave a Comment

No Pause

Just another day at the office. I looked at my calendar only to find that it was going to be a ‘meeting day.’ That meant that I had meetings all day, no pause, literally no time to go from one meeting to the other.

Some of you will recognize this. The funny thing is that there was a time that I wasn’t even worried if most of my days looked like that. I indeed became quite good at it. The last moments of a meeting I would wrap things up, pack my stuff together and be almost in time for my next meeting. And even if I were late, nobody would mind because everybody had the same problem.

When your day to day work looks like that, you easily forget to look at the broader perspective. You don’t find the time to ask yourself questions like: Why am I doing what I’m doing? What is my purpose? Why am I here? And even if you can ask yourself these questions and perhaps even find the answers, you certainly can’t find the time to analyze how well you are doing. Do all these meetings help you to fulfill your purpose? What could you improve to do better?


When you’re convinced there’s no time to reflect, I still urge you to make time for it, just because it is so important. Don’t keep on doing what you’re doing just because that’s what you’ve always done or because you just can’t find the time. That is a lame excuse.

And don’t let your environment be an excuse either. If everybody in your environment is doing stupid things, that doesn’t make it ok that you do them too.

Believe me; there is a way out of this madness. And of course, it requires you to take action. But don’t worry, I’ve got your back. Here are some important steps to take that will surely save you a lot of time in the future.

Your Checklist to Freedom

  • Open your calendar, and look at the past month, and then analyze all your meetings one by one.
  • Ask yourself if that meeting changed anything (don’t cheat, only “real things” count).
  • Reverse the question and ask yourself what would have gone wrong if that meeting hadn’t taken place?
  • Look at the frequency of every recurring meeting and ask what would happen if you would meet half as often.
  • Look at the duration of the meeting. What would happen if you would reduce it to half of the time? Live by these rules:
    1. No meetings longer than one hour, and
    2. “Normal” meetings are 30 minutes.
  • Look at the number of attendees of the meeting. Start to get worried if there were more than six.
  • For each attendee find out what the added value of that person was for that meeting. (If it is just a way for him or her to keep up to date, then realize that there are other means to accomplish that. Were there more people with the same added value, then only invite one of them from now on).
  • Look at your days and see if you had enough time between meetings to act upon the topics of the meetings. Use this guideline: Don’t let meetings take more than 25% of your time.
    Less is better.

I could add more, and probably so can you. The essential thing is that you take the time to analyze your meeting behavior and act upon your findings.

Use it Wisely

Oh, before I forget, when you do save time, promise me one thing:
Block that gained time in your calendar and tag it “My Time,” and then, use it wisely.

Thanks so much for being here.

See you on the next one!

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