When you become a boss or a manager, you have to learn how to deal with meeting creep — that phenomenon when meetings take over your calendar, with barely enough time to take a breath between them. You’ve got check-ins and calls and workshops and presentations. Every hour between 9 and 5 is booked.
And the question becomes: When do you actually do the work?
There are a few strategies I’ve tried over the years that have helped lessen the burden of meetings on my calendar:
1) Make your meetings better — Make sure everyone has an agenda for the meeting up front. When the meeting starts, recap the topics that need to be discussed, and see if anyone has anything else they need to discuss. Close the meeting with clear next steps. And by all means, try to finish on time!
2) Turn some meetings into drop-bys or emails — There are a number of meetings that could be solved by taking 5-10 minutes to drop by a coworker’s desk to talk things out. And there are far too many meetings that could have been a quick question solved over email. Know when you need to call a meeting (to build consensus, to decide on next steps as a team, to check in with a team member, etc.) and when you can save time.
3) Make time on your calendar for actual work — That might mean blocking out 90 minutes a few times a week on your calendar to sit down and do real work. It’s tough to get anything done when you’re only getting five minutes between meetings to try to take on a project. If your day’s overrun with meetings, block some time off so that others can’t take over your entire calendar.
Another idea: Save certain types of meetings — 1-on-1s, for instance — for certain days of the week. So many employees take days off on Mondays and Fridays throughout the year — meaning that any Monday/Friday check-ins end up getting frequently rescheduled — that maybe you want to move all of your 1-on-1s for mid-week, and save Monday and Friday for full work days.
That photo of an office building comes via Dylan Nolte for Unsplash.