First you have an all-staff morning meeting. Next it’s a client call from overseas. Then you have a working lunch with your colleague to go over the quarterly report. You round out the day with a team-building meeting followed by a one-on-one with your supervisor.
When you finally get a break in your day to tackle some actual work, you suddenly realize it’s time to head home. Your day ended up being back-to-back meetings, which resulted in lots of ideas and exciting work to do. The problem is you look at your calendar for tomorrow and it’s much of the same: meeting after meeting.
As we say in Minnesota: Uff da.
It’s all too common for modern-day professionals to spend their days at meetings where they are assigned work, yet they don’t actually have solid chunks of time to do that work because they’re at so many meetings! That often means cramming work into small periods of time, which can result in poor quality, or bringing work home at night, which kills morale and breeds hostility. It’s bad for the employee; it’s bad for the employer.
So what can you do if meetings are taking over your life? If you’ve found that people booking your days full of meetings has gotten out of hand, it’s time to take control. Here’s how you can actually get sh*t done.
F&^k meetings: Simply stop hosting and going to so many meetings. Every time, ensure there are legitimate reasons for you to be at a meeting, not just to stay informed. If the latter is the case, have someone send you an update afterward. It can take mere minutes to update someone on critical discussion points, when attending the meeting can take an hour or more.
Block calendar time: Remember, you are the master of your domain. If you need time to do work, you have the power to block it on your calendar. Hold the time you need each day to get tasks done. Having several hours to focus is better than trying to tackle a project piecemeal in 15-minute increments throughout the day. Block time and stress to colleagues those periods are off-limits for meetings.
Prioritize: The art of prioritizing doesn’t come naturally to many people. You can never please everyone at the same time, so you must learn this essential skill. Make a list and order it based on urgency, importance and deadline. Some things will naturally rise to the top while others will fall.
Delegate: Once you master the art of prioritization, it’s time to move on to the art of delegation. Newsflash: You can’t do it all! Learn to let go of some control and lean on your team to get things done. Assign tasks, set deadlines and work together for the common good. You’ll never be able to delegate everything, but by strategically assigning tasks to others, you’ll move projects forward faster and foster stronger teams.
Streamline: You’ll never be able to avoid all meetings, but when you must have one, set an agenda and help everyone stick to it. Even if you can cut a typical hour-long meeting full of tangents in half, everyone is sure to appreciate it. You can always follow up about additional items later or catch up about personal news at the water cooler.