Published by Calendly

Meetings are killing your productivity. 3 tricks to getting it back.

Overstuffing your schedule with meetings is a huge productivity killer. These three tricks will help you reclaim time for focused, productive work.

“Meetings are a symptom of bad organization. The fewer meetings the better.” — Peter F. Drucker

We recently shared three secrets to booking more meetings from some of our friends in the sales world–but what if you have the opposite problem?

What if your calendar is already so packed with meetings that your “real” work keeps getting pushed to the wee hours of the morning? Do you find yourself regularly staring, bleary-eyed, at your laptop screen at 1:00am after a day of back-to-back meetings?

If so, you know by now that overstuffing your schedule with meetings is a huge productivity killer. So how do you reclaim time for focused, productive work to ensure you’re really moving forward?

These three tricks will help make it happen.

1. Designate just 1-2 days for meetings (and save the rest for real work)

When your days are broken into short, disjointed chunks of time by constant meetings, your ability to get into a productive groove plummets. So rather than opening every weekday up to interruptions (and constantly spinning your wheels between them), dedicate just one or two days to meetings–and save the other three to four days for real work only.

Marie Poulin has had great success with this, noting that “by limiting the times I’m available in my scheduler system, I’ve managed to create more space for content creation, brainstorming, planning, designing, and just life in general.”

Calendly makes this workload division easy by allowing you to select a certain set of days each week for appointments, and then to hide the rest of your week from new bookings–even when your personal calendar may reveal a few open spaces each day:

book-fewer-meetings

You’re then able to utilize those extra open spaces as completely focused work time, rather than leaving them open for others to jump on your calendar as they see fit.

2. Find yourself repeating things? Turn 1:1’s into group sessions.

One-on-one meetings have some big pros. They provide less opportunity for attendees to drift off-track, and they keep more people productive at their own desks. But if your inbox frequently fills with “pick your brain” or “let’s grab coffee” requests, helping people help each other will free you up for more focused, proactive work.

Consider holding regular group lunches, open to all interested mentees, where you can address several attendees’ questions in quick succession and avoid having to cover the same information repeatedly. As an added benefit, group advising or brainstorming can kick off a support network in which attendees can help each other, allowing you to gracefully remove yourself from the conversation and attend to your own to-do’s.

3. Keep your calendar exclusive

If you’re still sharing the full details of your calendar–with prospects, clients or even your internal team–you’re essentially leaving your front door wide open: anyone can walk in and interrupt what you’re doing. To truly be in control of your time, you need to be able to choose when the door is open to others and decide who has permission to come in.

By setting your appointments in Calendly to private, you can close that front door and invite only those who truly deserve your time into your space.

Let’s say you’ve designated Mondays and Tuesdays your “meeting days” as outlined above–you’ll still need to control who books time with you on those days.  With Calendly, you can create a specific type of appointment for people to book, then designate it a private appointment:

This setting hides that type of appointment from your public scheduling page, and is now only visible to people with whom you choose to share it directly. Now, rather than your door being left open to anyone passing by, only those you’ve invited can drop in to chat, making the rest of your time truly yours.

Your Turn

How do you reserve time for focused, productive work during the week?
What are your secrets to holding fewer, or shorter, meetings?

Tweet at us with your answers. I’m excited to hear your input.