How to Minimize Time in Meetings

Do you spend too much time in meetings? This is a common problem for many freelancers. After all, clients need your input and you need theirs. However, while some meetings are necessary, they can often be a waste of time. If you’ve ever sat through a lengthy meeting and wondered why you were there, then it’s up to you to find out beforehand whether the meeting will be relevant to you.

Seven ways to minimize time in meetings:

  1. Avoid unnecessary meetings. If the topic for discussion can be handled in an email or over the phone, then there’s no need to waste everyone’s time by gathering in a room or on a video call. Essentially you’ll minimize time in meetings by not holding some of them at all.
  2. Have a clear agenda and stick to it so that you don’t waste time on unnecessary discussion points. List the most important topics at the beginning, make sure to specify time limits for each agenda item, and send the agenda ahead of time so that participants can prepare. This will help them be more knowledgeable about the topics for discussion, and it also gives everyone time to think of questions before the meeting begins. If you’re not the meeting organizer, request an agenda right away. This will help you to come prepared and minimize the amount of time spent discussing topics that don’t pertain to you.
  3. Limit the number of meeting participants. Not everyone needs to attend each meeting. Respecting everyone’s time is critical, and hopefully will be reciprocated. If you’ve been invited to a meeting and the agenda isn’t relevant to you, politely decline.
  4. Start and end meetings on time. This will show that you respect everyone’s time. If a meeting starts to run long, remind participants of the time limit for the current topic and move on if necessary. If you’re a meeting participant, let the host know that you must leave no later than the scheduled end time for another commitment.
  5. Don’t multitask during virtual meetings. Multi-tasking doesn’t work as well as you may think. When you’re working remotely, this can be difficult to avoid, but it’s important that everyone is focused on the topic at hand or else nothing will get accomplished.
  6. Try to make the meeting as short as possible, and set a specific end time. Not only do shorter meetings take less time, but they’re also more likely to stay on track. This will help to set a precedent for respect and efficiency.
  7. Be clear about the next steps, who is responsible for them, and when they should be completed. Send a meeting recap to all participants immediately following the meeting. This will ensure that everyone is on the same page and there are no surprises.

These tips should help you minimize time in meetings, without sacrificing important communication. Follow these guidelines and you’ll be on your way to more productive workdays.