It’s been said that too much of a good thing can do harm. I would put work meetings in that category. Don’t get me wrong. When done right, meetings serve a hugely valuable purpose in the working world. You can develop ideas with your team or hash out a new direction when things aren’t going right.
Regardless, wasteful work meetings are here to stay. Now it’s up to you to navigate your way out of them while putting your most professional foot forward. Here are six ways to strategically avoid the most time-wasting meetings and get those hours back in your day.
If I get a meeting invite and there’s no agenda, I ask for one before committing. Getting your hands on an agenda helps you determine whether you’re the appropriate person for that meeting. And if you are, having that agenda will allow you to prepare — which leads to shorter meetings!
This sounds trickier (and more unprofessional) than it really is. A lot of times coworkers add you to meeting invites because they honestly don’t know who should and shouldn’t be there. Thus, they don’t actually care if you’re there or not. If you know you won't contribute anything or take anything away, politely decline. Add a note explaining why, and use it as a teaching moment.
Believe it or not, there's a way to pre-empt a lot of work meetings. But the solution is: more meetings. Invite other people in the company for one-on-one coffee meet-ups to talk about your role, how you contribute, and your decision-making authority. It won’t get you out of every meeting, but it will enlighten others enough to leave you out of meetings that aren’t relevant to you.
Many meetings are not meeting-worthy. Once you get that meeting invite (and agenda), see if anything can be cleared up in one email. You’d be surprised.
A surefire way to not get an invite to meetings. Consider this “me time” at work. Fun fact: Working in 90-minute sessions could help your brain focus and solve problems more effectively.
If you brand yourself as someone who only goes to meetings that have a clear purpose and clear action items, then people will think twice before adding you to their next meeting. Believe me.