How can you skip meetings that waste your time? You receive the summons, and you know what it is — you’ve been there millions of times before. The team update meeting will waste your time. You’re slammed with other vital work — and the seemingly endless chit-chat “planning and update” meeting will not crush your goals — but it may crush your soul.
Some Meetings Can’t Be Avoided, Even if They Waste Your Time
You already know some meetings can’t be avoided, even if they are a colossal waste of time. These meetings are usually the ones that the boss thinks are motivating and golden. For these types of in-person contact — you must just suck it up and attend.
You can bear these meetings easier if you learn how to predict their occurrence, which is pretty simple—Monday morning — surprise, surprise. On your busiest, most intense work day — let’s insert an eerie omen of doom. Let’s review all the things some employees missed last week as inspiration for the coming week. Not a good leadership strategy.
Here are a few strategies for getting out of a meeting you know will be ineffective or, at the very least, cause harm to your productivity and time.
Determine which meetings are crucial to attend
The following is a brief list of meetings you want to attend; remember that since the pandemic — meetings have permanently changed, and you have more options.
- The most important meetings are those when people make choices and final decisions.
- You can’t make high-stakes choices by emails, such as launch dates or project assignments and options.
- You want to attend when everyone is expressing their perspective or venting worries. You want to be part of the solution.
- Remember that you cannot always predict what will be done in a meeting — you don’t want to miss the choices that affect you.
You’ll want to be present for any meeting that gives an overarching direction you will be obliged to follow. You want to have your say in these meetings. If the meeting is looking at launch dates, new projects, sales team recommendations (that may be accepted), and milestone check-ins — be there.
Attend meetings that are connection-building. If the higher brass is in town — be there. Also, take the time to build company and employee relationships, even in a meeting. Relationship-building is a supplementary but appropriate reason to attend a meeting. The topic may be dull or useless, but if you can improve a connection with a critical contact by spending time with them, that’s not a terrible result.
Funnel Meeting Availability
It’s pretty easy to call individuals to a meeting, and you don’t always have to be available. It is okay to have your schedule public, where someone can request an appointment — but you can be more selective about who has that access. It may be part of your business culture for everyone to disclose their calendars openly, but you can use a more stringent screening.
Try to funnel your meeting availability into specific days. For example, have a Wednesday and Thursday meeting availability. To gain your time and attention. part of the screening process is to have the meeting requestor perform “homework.” All but the most fanatic will be put off by this.
Meeting Management Tactics
Use higher-thinking CEO management tactics for yourself, whether you are the CEO or not. Then, have requestors answer a few questions for you before you agree to attend.
- What exactly is the subject?
- Do you have a plan?
- Do you have a time limit and timeframe?
- Check the date and time, as well as the location.
- Who else is going to be there?
- At the meeting — what is your expectation for my presence?
If the requestor is merely updating you, bow out quickly and ask that they include that information in an email.
Are you still having trouble saying no?
You know, for sure, that the meeting will take at least an hour — more if you have travel time. But, if you can attend by Zoom, you can still get other things done, and the hour meeting will then be limited to an hour without the extra added time in driving.
See if you can hop on a quick phone call. If all the information is covered from your “meeting management tactics” (above), then you can express your happiness and say, “Oh good, we got all of your questions and updates covered.”
Have your excuses ready, but don’t use the same ones every time
- I’ll be out of town for the next two weeks — please get in touch with me after that.
- Please contact me after the 15th, and we’ll set something up.
- If you have a concrete reason, give it. I’m heading the such-and-such project, but I want to help. How can we streamline my involvement in this project?
After two weeks, the requester often finds that the request has lost its urgency.
You may have to give in and go
Some people waste a ton of time trying to get out of the work instead of diving into it and getting it done. If you spend more than a couple of minutes ditching out of a meeting — it’s way too much time. In this case, it’s easier to go and make the most of it. Don’t hang around chit-chatting afterward — go to the meeting, then get the work done quickly.
Inform your employer or coworkers that your time is limited
You don’t have to be abrasive about it — but you can inform your employer or coworkers that your time is limited and that they should make their demands wisely.
You can ask for “quick” information upfront that you will work on later.
Always remain professional and polite when you skip meetings that waste time
Even competent managers and coworkers might forget that everyone has a time limit. You can gently remind those in attendance and bring them back to reality. Especially a team leads or manager needs to help the team individual comprehend the ramifications of their rash meeting invites.
Remain professional and polite. You don’t want to be the manager or team member who deals with “the average of 62 hours per month of workers’ time” by becoming passive-aggressive toward meetings. Unfortunately, some individuals begin to show up late (don’t do it!), then sit and fiddle on their devices.
Please don’t go to that worst option of all — since it reinforces a workplace culture in which it’s okay to ignore your coworkers and disregard other people’s time.
Be “all-in” at your meetings
Show up a few minutes early for your meetings and glad-hand the attendees. Make a great connection and enjoy yourself and help others enjoy the meeting. But insist the meeting starts on time — every time and that the information presented in the session is important. Try to contribute something valuable to each meeting.
The above methods will help you better navigate, reclaim, and safeguard your time. As a result, you’ll be better able to complete your vital job rather than rushing from meeting to meeting with no benefit.
Featured Image Credit: Tima; Pexels; Thank you!