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Meeting Overload? Tips for Cutting Back (Without Losing Momentum)

Meetings are an unavoidable part of the corporate landscape, and although they often serve a necessary function, allowing staff members to share information, generate ideas and ensure that everyone is on the same page, they can also prove detrimental to productivity. The need to avoid this is especially prevalent when employees suffer from meeting overload.

The burden of daily meetings can completely derail an employee’s workday, cutting into time that would otherwise be spent completing projects. Even if employees only have a few short meetings scheduled each week, these interruptions throughout the day can make it difficult to focus on other tasks, and significantly reduce output. Good work flow is a tough achievement to maintain so why disrupt all your good work for little benefit?

But is avoiding meeting overload possible? How can employees cut back on meetings and still deliver and receive the information they need to maintain momentum on projects? Here are a few strategies to consider.

Meeting-Free Days

Employees don’t always have control of their meeting schedules, which may be set by superiors and include mandatory attendance. However, a case can be made by interested employees for boosting productivity through meeting-free days.

If meeting overload is causing so many interruptions that employees aren’t able to complete their work in a timely manner, superiors must become open to options that increase productivity. Allowing employees to set aside days throughout the week that are completely free of meetings is one option. Another is to set one day solely for meetings, getting them all out of the way in one fell swoop and ensuring that the rest of the week is devoted to actual work.

Appropriate Meeting Schedules

Meetings are often scheduled on a regular basis, such as weekly or even daily in some cases. This certainly makes planning a calendar easy, but is it necessary and appropriate? If regularly scheduled meetings produce little in the way of results or added value for projects, the schedule needs to be altered to ensure that time is not being wasted and that every meeting is productive.

Alternatives to Meetings

If meetings become redundant, boring and basically useless, it’s time to rethink how you’ve chosen to communicate. Are meetings even necessary or could time-saving alternatives work better for information sharing purposes?

There are a number of ways to accomplish the same goals without pulling otherwise productive employees away from their work. For example, meetings that are basically only used for updates could be cancelled in favor of regular updates via email. This way all parties involved can still deliver and receive pertinent information regularly, but gain better control over their own schedules and time management.

The right project management software could also prove useful in this capacity. With cloud-based solutions from a company like Clarizen, avoiding meeting overload becomes simple, replaced by the ability to easily share information and resources related to particular projects. Capabilities such as automated status reporting can literally save teams multiple hours per week that they can then spend on more important tasks.

Technology allows for many avenues of communication that increase flexibility and productivity. When meeting overload is dragging down efficiency and leaving employees frustrated and unable to complete work in a timely manner, there are ways to cut back on meetings without losing the benefits of those interactions.

Anne Catambay
Anne Catambay, VP Global Marketing