7 tips for saving time with efficient meetings

Stop wasting time in meetings! 7 tips for preparing more effective meetings and better managing your schedule.
4 min

We are inundated with meetings in video conference or not, and by endless and often useless email exchanges. Here are 7 tips for preparing more effective meetings and better managing your schedule.

Meetings, meetings, meetings...

A 2022 survey by Steven Rogelberg, a professor of organizational sciences at the University of North Carolina, found that employees spend an average of 18 hours per week in 17.7 meetings. Those same employees would have preferred not to attend 31% of those meetings.

With remote work, for most of us, our schedules have become filled with even more meetings...

Meetings, interruptions and concentration

Of all meetings, the worst are the quick meetings because there is nothing "quick" about them.

They disrupt your concentration and then you need several minutes to fully immerse yourself back into what you were doing. Specifically, any interruption in your work requires an average of 23 minutes to regain the same level of concentration.

Finding Balance

This succession of meetings is a way of working that is far too synchronous to collaborate serenely. It is not sustainable and productive to have constant moments of teamwork, as well as to be constantly in instant reaction.

On the other hand, email inboxes are filled with endless discussions and important information gets lost... It's too asynchronous to work smoothly. But that's another topic.

In short, we need a cultural and systematic change around meetings and teamwork. Not all meetings are bad, but most of them can be avoided.

Similarly, we need to find a better balance between work in a team, effective production time and break time.

7 tips to reduce the number of meetings

Here is the list of best practices we apply at Atolia and within the SaaS Labs group to organize more efficient meetings, both online and onsite. These tips also allow us to reduce the number of meetings by 50% and to work more asynchronously.

How to Reduce Meeting Time? Here are our 7 Best Practices:

  1. Ask yourself if this meeting is really necessary and useful
  2. End meetings earlier
  3. Don't attend meetings without an agenda
  4. A recurring meeting can be cancelled
  5. Reduce the default duration of meetings
  6. Protect your calendar
  7. You have the right to leave a meeting

1. Ask yourself if this meeting is really necessary and useful

The majority of meetings can be converted into emails or documents. Meet only to make important decisions and to think together on how to solve problems. These are the only two true reasons to hold a meeting.

The 30 minutes team meeting at the beginning of the week is tolerated as a way to update everyone on tasks completed and to be done, as well as to create team cohesion.

Nevertheless, to keep track of tasks, a project management tool or a simple document is more appropriate and can be consulted by everyone in due time rather than in a meeting.

"No more meetings" - The Office

2. End meetings earlier

Come prepared to your meetings and try to end them earlier, as soon as all the agenda items have been discussed. To do that, you also need to name a Time Keeper.

3. Don't attend meetings without an agenda

Don't attend meetings without a clear agenda. Without it, it's too easy to get lost in random and irrelevant discussions. Moreover, most of these meetings without an agenda end up with the organization of other meetings...

4. A recurring meeting can be cancelled

If there is no real agenda or new information to share, the meeting should be canceled. You will do a favor to all the participants.

5. Reduce the default duration of meetings

Rather than blocking out 30 or 60 minutes, take only 15, 20 or 40 minutes of meetings. This forces everyone to be concise and get straight to the point. Especially when we know that our capacity of pure concentration is about 30 minutes to 1 hour but in front of a screen it can be only a few minutes...

Moreover, it is proven that the more time we have available, the longer we take to complete a task (this is called procrastination). Shortening the time of meetings is therefore a good way to gain in efficiency.

6. Protect your calendar

Decline meetings when you think you have nothing to contribute. Meetings are an escalation. They should only be used when all other written communications have failed.

7. You have the right to leave a meeting (Yes, yes!)

If you have nothing to contribute to the meeting, or if it has no value for you, or if all of your items have been covered, do not hesitate to leave. Of course, this practice is not very common today and can be misunderstood. Take a little time to explain your approach and you will do everyone a favor.

Organize your meetings now with Atolia and collaborate more easily (chat, video, shared calendars, document co-editing and project management).