Start canceling meetings

August 20, 2021
Reading Time: 2 minutes
Home 9 +Good Newsletter 9 Start canceling meetings

Looking for an easy way to make your team more productive, more creative, and (almost certainly) happier? 

Start canceling meetings. Today. 

If I can point to one practice that has helped me pivot from being a full-fledged workaholic to a person with a fair amount of margin in her day, it has been my willingness to ruthlessly eliminate meetings from my day. 

By canceling 70% of my meetings, I have (magically) freed up my work week. I am sitting on an extra dozen hours of time to actually do work

And I’m not alone. 

As a recent Digiday article noted, “As more statistics link meeting overload to burnout, a crackdown on meeting culture is emerging.”

While canceling all of your meetings might not be possible, there are definitely small steps you can take to make your meetings more productive (and give your calendar a bit more breathing room). 

Begin by asking the tough questions like…

What is this meeting costing your organization? 

Do you have all of your senior leaders in a room for 2 hours? Think about what that time is worth…

What is the opportunity cost of this meeting? 

What else could you be doing with this time—and is that something else more important? 

Do you know exactly what you’re hoping to accomplish in the meeting? 

Going into a meeting without a goal is a surefire way to waste time. 

Are you prepared for the meeting? 

Do you have notes? An agenda? Pre-reads? Do all of the attendees know what they’re supposed to bring to the table? 

Can you make the meeting shorter? 

Sure, canceling meetings might not be possible—but you can definitely save yourself some time by cutting an hour into 30 minutes, or 30 minutes into 15! 

No agenda? Decline.

Is this really a simple question? Just send it to me and I’ll answer it. Do you need me to brainstorm? Great. Put pen to paper for a few minutes and I’ll start there. 

Here at Swell+Good, our team works asynchronously (we do not have fixed business hours) which makes meetings nearly impossible and has forced us to double down on other forms of communication. We’re pros at messaging, written updates, and shared notes and files—and when we actually speak in real-time, it is much more about relationship building than getting things done.

With clients, we’re strategic. We come to meetings armed with questions, stick to our agendas, and keep meetings as short as possible—we’ll happily host a 5-minute update and call it a day (no need to fill 30 minutes if you don’t have 30 minutes of things to talk about!). 

A no-meeting (or fewer-meetings) life is a beautiful thing. So open that calendar and start canceling. 

Need help thinking through how to make your meetings more effective—or how to get rid of some of them altogether? Reach out by replying to this email! We’d love to help!

Allison Kooser

Allison is Chief Storyteller at Swell+Good, where she partners with amazing organizations to help them bring their stories to life. She is an avid traveler, an expert takeout orderer, and a big believer in curiosity and kindness. She tries to learn something new every day, and she reads, writes, and paddleboards more than the average human.
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