Limit Meetings to Protect Your Well-Being
It's no secret that I am not a fan of excessive meetings. A day full of back-to-back meetings is my personal hell, which I suppose would make a meeting-packed day with brief intermittent breaks my purgatory.
[contextly_auto_sidebar id="h4El0jyXQzufBlj8fWg1Q9MdFMu3w0LK"]I recently wrote about the first move Peter Deng made when he moved to Instagram, removing all standing meetings and then re-adding them as needed. The result was that productivity, effectiveness and innovation skyrocketed. No surprise there: when people have more time to work and think, they make better decisions and products.
Researchers from the University of Minnesota at Duluth and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte have found a "significant positive relationship" between employees' meeting load and their self-reported fatigue. The more meetings we have, the researchers found, the more likely we are to say that we're exhausted and overloaded with work.
My experience meshes well with this research. I feel any or all of the following in a meeting-packed day. Do you identify with any of these?
- Frustrated, because my schedule is outside my control and I'm forced to abide by others' availability rather than my most creative hours
- Overwhelmed, because an already packed workweek inevitably has new action items and deliverables resulting from each meeting
- Tired, because the act of paying attention to meeting attendees' nuances, presentations and brainstorming so that I can take notes and action items is mentally draining
- Lethargic, because I've been sitting in a conference room instead of walking on my treadmill desk or pacing around my office
- Distracted, because I'm thinking about my previous and next meetings, and all the work I'm not doing by attending meetings
Out of necessity, and to preserve my own sanity, I try to limit total meetings I attend to one or two per day.
This isn't always feasible.
But when it is, I find I can adjust far better to any extra work a meeting creates, I enjoy my day more, and ultimately I just produce better work.
What's your personal daily meeting quota for optimal well-being?