Take back your day with a meeting manifesto

Jennie Tan
Sep 1 · 6 min read
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Photograph by Gabrielle Matte and Samuel Pasquier

What an interesting six months it’s been

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, I’ve worked from home for more than 100 days in a row.

And during this time, videoconferences have sometimes wreaked havoc on my sanity. Does that sound familiar?

Here’s what I did about it and how you can control your own meeting madness.

All with a meeting manifesto.

Approaching exhaustion

When the shelter-in-place order came down in March, my workdays were immediately filled with hours of videoconferences.

During the first month, all those videoconferences took their physical and mental tolls on me. By the end of a meeting-filled day, I was racked with anxiety (over all the work I didn’t get done) and guilt (over all the work I didn’t get done) and completely exhausted.

I could barely talk. My head ached.

I was suffering from videoconference fatigue. (Yes, that’s a real thing.)

The breaking point

The breaking point came one Friday morning when I opened my laptop to see eight meetings on my schedule. For one day.

Something had to give.

A meeting manifesto was born

I decided to create an official declaration of how I would manage my meetings from then on — to lessen anxiety, to make room for heads-down work, and to take back control of my workday.

I call it a meeting manifesto.

Here’s a screenshot of it:

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My meeting manifesto.

My meeting manifesto, point by point

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How to create your own meeting manifesto

Every person’s calendar is different, and the way each person deals with their calendar is different. To create a meeting manifesto that works for you, follow these steps:

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Be proactive every day in pruning your calendar!

Some final words

So how has my meeting manifesto been working?

Things are definitely better! I no longer have days when I’m ready to pass out from exhaustion. My stress level is down.

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A meeting manifesto can help you: 1) declare your meeting limits, 2) find breathing room between meetings, and 3) stake a claim to heads-down “do not schedule” time.

Steer your career

As you can imagine, I’m not the only one suffering through a flood of videoconferences. I’ve shared my manifesto with coworkers and encouraged them to take control of their own calendars.

Why not become a meeting maverick for your company? Help everyone learn ways to better manage their time.

It’s not only good for you; it’s good for your career.

By getting a handle on your day and sharing your technique with others, you’re demonstrating leadership and impact across your team. Be sure to add it to your annual self-review!

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Meeting culture can’t be changed in solitude. Take the first step, and ask others to follow. ■

What are your tips for wrangling a meeting-heavy day? Share them in a comment below!

Thanks to Michelle Morrison, John Mikulenka, and Andrew Richdale for their help in putting together this article.

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Dropbox Design

We believe joy is the engine that powers the best ideas.

Jennie Tan

Written by

UX Writer @dropbox. I craft words that help people get things done. Also #TheOffice superfan and breakfast burrito lover.

Dropbox Design

We believe joy is the engine that powers the best ideas. We’re designing a more enlightened of working, so you can love the way you work. More on dropbox.design.

Jennie Tan

Written by

UX Writer @dropbox. I craft words that help people get things done. Also #TheOffice superfan and breakfast burrito lover.

Dropbox Design

We believe joy is the engine that powers the best ideas. We’re designing a more enlightened of working, so you can love the way you work. More on dropbox.design.

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