A Ten-Step Process for Team Leaders to Reduce Meeting Overload and Take Back Their Time
My blueprint (which you should steal) for freeing your time
A few months ago, I started a new job as the leader of a busy team of consultants. Within days of starting, I found myself inundated with meetings, and the expectation seemed to be that I represent our team at board meetings, client meetings, external engagements, you name it.
Being eager to please my new boss, it’s a role I’ve happily played, with little thought to the consequences.
But increasingly I’ve found myself frustrated, compensating for my busy diary by doing all high value work between 06:00 am and 09:00 am, then staying late to mop up the emails I’ve missed during the day — because I’ve been in back-to-back meetings.
While it increasingly appears to be the norm that people work longer hours to keep up, it’s hard to add any real value or critical thought when I spend my days surfing from meeting to meeting. And interestingly, my team has begun to mention that they would like me to provide more guidance on their work, which obviously I can’t do if I’m always in meetings.
It’s been tempting to shrug my shoulders and think “hey, this is just the meeting culture of the organization”. But I’ve realized that this is a lazy response and poor leadership.
Plus, I didn’t take on a new job, just to sit in meetings all day every day — I took the role to learn, grow, and add value through the work I produce.
So, after recognizing that this is a personal problem — i.e. I’m not managing my time well, and that I need to take ownership of it, I’ve implemented a series of steps that have started to significantly reduce the time I spend in meetings. While I can’t promise they will work for everyone, if you’re reading this, it’s my hope that they will be of some benefit to you too.
Step 1: Tell people you’re trying something new on a trial basis and invite them to participate
When I initially began stepping back from meetings, I realized that my lack of attendance was being negatively commented on, and on some occasions being…