Reclaim Your Time from Meetings

A 2019 Korn Ferry study found that more than a third of workers—34 percent—waste two to five hours each week in unproductive calls or meetings. That’s time that can better be spent doing deep work like finishing a report, revamping a strategic plan, or revising training materials. One way to get more done: cut back on the time spent in an office huddle. Here’s how to gain more hours in your day.

Meet standing up. Researchers from the University of Missouri and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville found that sit-down meetings were 34 percent longer than meetings in which participants stood.

Set topic time limits. Avoid long-winded speakers and keep the meeting on track with Timeblocks, a website that lets you enter an agenda and the number of minutes allotted to each topic. An alarm goes off when it’s time to move on to the next subject.

Just say no. Some meetings can be avoided entirely. Delegate the meeting to a more junior employee, or if it’s a simple topic, suggest a quick phone call instead.

Stay only for parts that are relevant. Sometimes only one item on the agenda applies to you. Rather than gritting your teeth through an entire hour, let the team know you have to leave after the topic at hand.

Offer a different way to provide input. One purpose of meetings is to collect employee feedback. Send the team your written thoughts in advance in lieu of attending.

Walk and talk. Walking meetings allow colleagues to share information while moving their bodies. Not only will you be more likely to confine the time of the meeting to the walk, but a Stanford University study found that walking meetings get the creative juices flowing.

Schedule shorter meetings. Chances are your colleagues hate meetings as much as you do. Suggest giving 15-minute meetings a try. The team may be motivated to make them work.

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