With remote work becoming the new norm, most organizations and individuals are over indexing on meetings to stay connected.  As a result, most of us find ourselves in back-to-back meetings through the day and do not find time to get any work done.

In this article we share 7 tips to help you minimize the time you spend in meetings and take charge of your day.

1. Kill status update meetings

2. Review recurrent meetings

3. Divide and conquer meetings

4. Politely decline irrelevant meetings

5. Replace meetings with asynchronous communication

6. Implement meeting free day/afternoon

7. Implement personal time blocks

Let’s dive in!

1. Kill status update meetings

This is the first meeting to delete from your calendar. Updates on the projects that the team is working on does not warrant a 30min block for the entire team at the same time. Instead, organize all your projects in a collaborative document and ask the team to go in and update the status of each project along with highlighting blockers/milestones/help needed etc. You can review this and set up a meeting with only the members that need it. With Loopin you can create a master document of projects with next steps and provide status visibility to the entire team.

2. Review recurrent meetings

We all have those dreaded 30min recurring blocks which were relevant at one point but no longer serve the purpose. No one looks forward to that meeting, but no one (including the meeting owner) proposes to cancel the meeting either. It is just there, reducing the entire group’s productivity every single week.

Review your recurring meetings, identify the ones that are relevant and kill the rest. If you are the meeting owner, let the group know that this meeting is no longer needed, and move the conversation (if needed) to email or other collaborative apps. If you are the attendee, ask the meeting owner if they still need this meeting. In most cases, they will end up cancelling the meeting.

3. Divide and conquer meetings

I have seen so many cross-functional meetings where multiple people from the same function or same team attend. Why!?! Instead, divide and conquer. You just need one person from every team or functional group to attend the meeting and then relay the discussion back to their teammates in an asynchronous fashion.

4. Politely decline irrelevant meetings

It is a common misconception that just because you are invited to a meeting, you are required for the conversation. Learning to identify only required meetings and declining the rest is a great way to win time back. A good way to know if the meeting is relevant for you is though meeting agenda. If you have not been provided with an agenda, ask the meeting owner to provide one before accepting the invite.

When you realize that the meeting is not relevant for you, we have outlined a scenarios to help you politely decline the meeting:

If the meeting agenda is not related to your expertise

Hi [XYZ],

Thank you for inviting me to the meeting. Based upon the meeting agenda, I don’t think I am the right person to contribute to the discussion. My suggestion would be to include [ABC] from the team instead.

Thank You,

[PQR]

If you are too senior for the meeting

Hi [XYZ],

Thank you for inviting me to the meeting. I look forward to the continued collaboration between our teams. [ABC] from my team will be attending this meeting instead and will be including me in the meeting notes after the discussion.

Thank You,

[PQR]

If you think you are too junior for the meeting

Hi [XYZ],

Thank you for inviting me to the meeting. Looking at the agenda and expected meeting outcomes, I think it might be useful to have my manager [ABC] in the meeting, instead. I will fill him/her up on the details before the meeting.

Thank You,

[PQR]

If only one section of the agenda is relevant for you

Hi [XYZ],

Thank you for inviting me to the meeting. Scanning through the agenda, it looks like I am needed only for the first x min of the discussion. If it’s alright, I will drop off the call once the relevant discussion is over.

Thank You,

[PQR]

5. Replace meetings with asynchronous communication

The purpose of a meeting is to arrive at ideas, plans, solutions, and decisions. The good news is that most of these objectives can be achieved through asynchronous communication. This can be done by creating a collaborative document and asking folks to leave their thoughts, comments, and questions as they read through the document at their own time. In fact, this method of collaboration happens to be more efficient when active thinking is required by the collaborators.

6. Implement meeting free day/afternoon

More and more organizations are adopting this to give teams time back to work on their action items, tasks and projects. The idea is to block one day or section of a day throughout the team for just work. No one should be setting meetings during that time, and this holds true for both teams and executives. Folks can use this time to wrap up their pending tasks, plan their schedule, develop new skills etc.

7. Implement personal time blocks

Well, if none of the above tips work, a simple way to manage your time is by blocking chunks of your day for dedicated work. During this time, snooze all email/instant messaging notifications and remove all distractions to stay focused on the task at hand. If you get done with the task before the time ends, you get bonus time to take a break and relax.