how to avoid the meeting marathon


Prologue. Monday morning. You nearly made it on time to your first meeting of the week. While attending and trying to make up your mind, you wonder what this meeting is about. In a discreet way you´re checking your smartphone to look at the calendar entry. You notice that you have 9 meetings today. 3 of them are overlapping or clashing. Some of them you remember, most of them you don’t.
Overall you have around 30 meetings in the upcoming week. You have to do some project work and you are due to delivering some reports and presentations for customers and your boss.

Is this you? Does this sound familiar to you? Maybe you should think about a change. In the past years I noticed a kind of a meeting madness, which takes place all over the world in todays offices.
And it is getting worse. With all the technology and gadgets we own these days to organize our business days, we have lost the ability to focus on the core. We think we are effective, but we´re
far away of being efficient. It is a common behavior to accept a meeting invite on the run, not even knowing what it is about. Just to please somebody and not wanting to annoy him or her. This is how I do it.

1. give yourself a calendar time

After a long, busy week I have a recurring calendar entry on Friday afternoon for 45 minutes. This is my time where I have a close look on the upcoming meetings next week. Here I can reassure if I find some clashes, if a meeting still makes sense or if I may have to decline or postpone a meeting.
I as well can find out if I am missing some information to specific topics, ask the meeting organizer for some more input or for an agenda to decide if my attendance still makes sense. This is the time where i clear up my agenda. It is a very simple behavior which assures not having an overload of unproductive meetings and helps you to prioritize your time. (and makes me feel better of the weekend)

2. no agenda – no meeting

Sounds harsh, but it is exactly how I work. This for sure is handled reciprocal because I don´t send an invite without an agenda as well. Even the shortest meeting invite should contain a purpose, a topic and a desired outcome. This makes meetings so much more productive and values the time of all attendees. Like mentioned before – a smartphone in your hand is a powerful gadget, but it implements the danger for everybody accepting a meeting invite while ordering a coffee at Starbucks. And this is why so many people are rushing to meetings, without having a clue what it is about. This is a waste of time for everybody. So next time when you receive a meeting invite, check if there is an agenda before accepting. And if not – kindly ask the organizer if he or she could include it. Otherwise – there is no meeting.

3. give yourself a break (and prepare thoroughly)

We should not have more meetings to be more efficient, we should have meaningful meetings which makes sense and where everybody comes prepared. So bring yourself into the right mindset before attending the next meeting. You can rarely do this if you do not plan some breaks in between
Everybody of us needs some minutes to refocus.
Think about that in every meeting where you have been invited, your inspiration, your spirit your good ideas are really much appreciated and that´s the reason why you have been invited.
You are the one owning your calendar, so you should not accept or plan invites where one meeting follows consecutively after the other. Does a meeting always needs to be 60 minutes ? Or are 45 minutes maybe enough time to cover your topics? Think about it.

These 3 simple rules of setting priorities helped me a lot to survive the meeting madness of today.
We all have the same 24 hours. Even if trainings are saying so – you can´t manage time, but you can set the right priorities. What do you think? Did you have the same experiences? Ist this how you already do it or do you have some additional advices you can share?




About monissen
- raised up analogue - arrived in the digital age - now working in Munich - living in Bremerhaven - lived and worked in Dublin, Ireland - the heart of IT, and fell in love - lived and fell in love in and with Andalusia before - born in Northern Germany, Eckernförde - affinity for lyrics in general - like reading - like running - enjoying life

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