Future Planning

What Is ‘Calendar Bankruptcy’?

BY Anne Johnson TIMEAugust 28, 2022 PRINT

Meetings help bring people together and ensure everyone is on the same page. But having too many meetings can cause more problems than they are meant to prevent. Meeting overload can drain people’s energy and destroy morale.

The point of meetings is to help people complete their work, but sometimes they actually hinder people from accomplishing tasks. So what should you do if your employees have meeting overload?

Declare “Calendar Bankruptcy”

The Harvard Business Review surveyed 182 senior managers about the number of meetings they were having and what their thoughts were. The Review found that 65 percent said meetings kept them from completing their work. Seventy-one percent said their meetings were unproductive, and 62 percent said meetings didn’t optimize bringing the team closer together.

If you see that your employees are overwhelmed with the number of meetings per week, it’s time to strip down the calendar to nothing. In other words, bankrupt your work calendar. Once every meeting is off the books, closely evaluate the scope and objective of each meeting you’ve eliminated. Asana, a collaborative organizational software, calls this “meeting doomsday.”

Don’t add any meetings back to the calendar until you’ve determined it’s essential.

Productivity Improves With Fewer Meetings

Employee productivity increases when there are fewer meetings. For example, the Harvard Business Review surveyed 76 companies and found that productivity was 71 percent higher when meetings were reduced by 40 percent.

Fewer meetings allow workers to be more autonomous. They now have the time to write their “to-do lists” and stay on top of messages or emails.

How to Eliminate Meetings

Before a meeting is scheduled, the first question should be, “What is the objective?” If it’s just distributing information, there are other less-intrusive ways to do this without killing time. And if there’s not one focused objective, forgo the meeting and send an email.

You also need to ask whether everyone in the meeting really needs the same information to do their job. For example, does the sales manager need to know what’s happening in the IT department? That can probably just be a Slack conversation or email.

An asynchronous communication sometimes does a better job than a synchronous meeting. A synchronous meeting is scheduled so everyone must be there at the same time. This could be in person or a video meeting. But an asynchronous communication like an email, project management tool, or even a messaging app allows employees access to the information on their terms. The goal is still reached, but time isn’t wasted sitting in a meeting.

If you must have meetings, at least have one day a week that is ultimately meeting-free. For example, make it a policy to have a “meeting-free Wednesday” or “no-meeting Friday.” This will be the one day of the week where you’re likely assured that productivity will be at its highest.

Use Project Management Software

Project management software lets your employees track projects, meet deadlines, and stay within budgets. The software is an excellent way for employees to communicate without having to meet face to face. In addition, the communication and tracking are done in real-time, which is more productive than stopping productivity to have a meeting.

There are numerous tools available that can meet any need or budget.

What Meetings Remain

Some meetings must be conducted to keep people in a team frame of mind and to accomplish objectives. But before you start a meeting or have one of your managers conduct a meeting, make sure there’s an agenda. Everyone should receive this agenda before the meeting so that they come prepared.

Agendas keep meetings on track. A meeting on sales objects can be hijacked quickly about IT problems if an agenda isn’t developed and kept on point.

There are other meetings, like a weekly or biweekly one-on-one with key employees, that should be retained.

Brainstorming or innovation meetings may also be necessary. But make sure you set clear goals for a brainstorming session. You’re here to come up with new advertising ideas, not gripe about what’s wrong with the company. Make sure you are clear that employees need to come with ideas that can be discussed. Once again, have an agenda, although it may be looser so that the meeting stays on track.

An update meeting is often called for. If there are changes in a company’s goals, projects, or budgets, these need to be communicated in person. Make sure you are clear and organized with the information. Leave a designated time for questions and comments.

Details of projects don’t need to be addressed in a meeting. Those should be left to written communication so everyone is always on the same page. When it’s time to expand on these, they can be discussed in an update meeting.

Calendar Bankruptcy Just the Beginning

Declaring bankruptcy on your calendar is just the start of eliminating unnecessary meetings. Once you’ve wiped out all the meetings on your calendar, only reinstate what’s absolutely necessary to run your company or department.

When you have a meeting, make sure it’s planned, with an agenda and a time limit. Eliminating time-killing meetings will allow your employees to become more productive.

The Epoch Times Copyright © 2022 The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors. They are meant for general informational purposes only and should not be construed or interpreted as a recommendation or solicitation. The Epoch Times does not provide investment, tax, legal, financial planning, estate planning, or any other personal finance advice. The Epoch Times holds no liability for the accuracy or timeliness of the information provided.

Anne Johnson
Anne Johnson was a commercial property & casualty insurance agent for nine years. She was also licensed in health and life insurance. Anne went on to own an advertising agency where she worked with businesses. She has been writing about personal finance for ten years.
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