Meetings are a part of life in the professional world. However, many times they can kill productivity at work and cause both employees and managers to feel like they are all wasting valuable time that could be better spent on accomplishing tasks. Here are just some steps that you can implement into your daily life in the workplace to ensure that you stay productive when you have too many meetings.
1. Confirm Whether Attendance Is Mandatory
We are so programmed in this current workplace culture that as soon as we hear the word meeting, we either try to figure out a way to avoid it or cram it into our busy schedules. One of the best ways to stay productive when you have too many meetings is to first ascertain whether or not attendance is actually mandatory. The meeting may be mandatory for all employees. However, your department may not be required to attend until the second half of the meeting. Do yourself a favor and find out whether attendance is compulsory and you’ll be glad you did if you don’t have to attend or only have to attend the second half. Don’t be afraid to avoid attending the meeting if you don’t have to. Not all meetings are mandatory and sometimes attending a meeting can hinder your productivity in completing your daily tasks.
2. Get the Details on the Meeting Agenda
If you want to be more productive when you have too many meetings, it is important to know what is on the meeting agenda. Sometimes meetings have a tendency to run off in the wrong direction like a runaway train, rather than focus on the issues at hand and allow everyone to remain productive. If you’re a manager, make sure you have a detailed and constructive agenda created so everyone knows what is going to be discussed and you know when the meeting is getting off track. If you’re not a manager but need to attend the meeting for your department, make sure you ask for a copy of the agenda if you don’t get one emailed to you beforehand. Having the agenda in hand before the meeting will enable you to better prepare for the discussion and know what you need to do to be more productive.
3. Press for Team Productivity at the Meeting
When the meeting begins to veer off course, it can be very difficult to pull in the reins and bring the focus back to the basics of the meeting purpose. However, if you have a manager who is not very effective at reining in sidebars and off-track meandering conversations, take the initiative to get the meeting back on track. Press for the team members to be productive at this meeting. Politely remind everyone what the focus of the meeting is and where the rest of the meeting should be headed according to the planned agenda. As a manager, you need to ensure that you have total control of the meeting and that you are setting goals, delegating tasks, making informed decisions, and focusing on staying productive at all costs.
4. Don't Stress About Your Other Work
On days that you have several meetings, you can sometimes be focused on the pile of work still in your inbox that must get done. However, that preoccupation with not being able to get back to your desk to finish work only hinders you from actually being productive in the meeting. So, one way to be more productive when you have too many meetings is to ensure that you try to stay as organized as possible with time-blocking during the week in order to complete all your tasks in a timely fashion within deadlines. When you know that you are organized and able to accomplish your normal daily job tasks, you can become a freer and more willing meeting participant rather than an employee with the mindset of not another waste-of-time meeting to attend. While attending these meetings, realize that you are not going to be able to get work done at your desk. Accept the reality of having to attend some meetings, while balancing your own task organization skills so that you are less stressed and more productive each day.
5. Schedule with Breaks in Mind
Another way to help you to be more productive when you have too many meetings is to schedule them with breaks in mind. For example, having four back-to-back meetings during the day is a surefire way to eliminate all productivity and create added stress to everyone in the workplace. If your manager has scheduled such back-to-back meetings, speak to him about adding some breaks in between. Now, this does not mean that you will constantly be going on coffee breaks after each half-hour or hour-long meeting. However, there needs to be a timespan of at least 15 minutes for all meeting participants to break to decompress, process all the information, assess their tasks, and ensure they can make sense of their own notes before heading to the next meeting.
6. Be Strategic in Planning the Meetings
You can be more productive when you have too many meetings to attend by being strategic in your planning of them. If you’re a manager or the team member who is responsible for scheduling the meetings, focus on efficiency by scheduling them to take place in the same conference room if you have back-to-back meetings. However, remember to keep at least one 15-minute break in mind when scheduling these back-to-back meetings. Additionally, you can consider other strategic options for being more productive when you have many meetings like holding phone conferences through service like FreeConferenceCall. You can save time by having all the team members involved call in to the conference line from their own desks. They can then focus on the call and then quickly get back to work without having to leave their offices to meet with colleagues or clients.
7. Take the Total Avoidance Approach
Of course, this cannot work in all workplace situations, especially where meetings are mandatory. However, this total avoidance approach is geared more towards avoiding those impromptu meetings that can happen when your manager and other colleagues meet near your office door and try to trap you in to attending an unscheduled gathering to “discuss things.” Those discussions often become runaway trains and you’d rather throw yourself off the speeding locomotive than attend the impromptu meeting. For starters, there is no meeting agenda, and the unplanned circumstances can be very frustrating for someone who is trying to juggle actual scheduled meetings and staying productive in completing daily tasks. So, if you happen to hear the tenor of conversation approaching your desk that sounds like an impromptu meeting is on the way, head for the hills or at least try to make it look like you’re otherwise occupied with work or on the phone.
8. Speak with Management
If your overloaded meeting schedule is truly causing you to be unproductive and you’re not accomplishing anything in these meetings or in your actual workday, it may be time to consider speaking with your manager. Be professional in your approach. Don’t rant and rave about how these meetings are causing havoc with your workplace productivity. Rather, come to the manager with actual facts and a possible solution about how to trim out some of these meetings so that you can become more productive again.
See Also: 7 Reasons Your Meetings are Unproductive
If you have too many meetings and feel unproductive, take a look at the eight steps discussed in this article and ascertain which ways you can use to find your productivity again.
Have you ever experienced feeling unproductive when you had too many meetings at work? Let us know in the comments section below!