Back to all posts
Iryna Viter

10 Ways to Reduce Unnecessary Meetings to Be More Productive

Meetings can become costly time sinks. Learn how to work productively by cutting down on unnecessary meetings in our guide.

Look into your calendar. How many meetings would you say you don't need there?

Unnecessary meetings are a growing pandemic that is eating away at everyone's productivity at work. And it's time to get the vaccine out.

In this article, we're going to tell you everything about the status quo of wasteful meetings and ways you can bring that meeting problem to a triumphant end.

What is an unnecessary meeting?

An unnecessary meeting is an offline or online business meeting that can and should be avoided to save the time of everyone who would be involved in it.

If you can put the gist of it into an email, a Loom video, a Miro board, or any other async alternativeyour meeting is unnecessary.

In 2023, Zippia conducted research on meetings and their impact on productivity. Here are some of the highlights you need to keep in mind:

  • Companies spend around 15% of their time in meetings, but 71% bear little result.
  • An average worker spends up to 31 hours of their time in unnecessary meetings.
  • People multitask in at least 41% of the meetings they attend. Are they really paying attention and being productive then?
  • 39% of employees admitted that they have slept during a business meeting, while 91% said they enjoyed some daydreaming.
  • Only 11% of meetings are believed to actually be productive.

The benefits of reducing the number of meetings we attend

The future of work is already upon us, and unnecessary meetings is one of the things everybody will need to address if they want to keep up with the trends and the needs of the modern workforce.

Here's why you need to be among the trailblazers ditching recurring meetings:

  • More engaged employees. By reducing your meetings by 60% or introducing a company policy of three meeting-free days for everyone, you can increase employee engagement, collaboration, and autonomy.
  • Better productivity. 70% of meetings keep people from completing their tasks. By bringing the number of those unnecessary meetings down, you can expect to see an increase in your team's output.
  • More focus. Nobody likes getting interrupted when they are in the thick of something, but meetings do exactly that. 98% of people say they get interrupted at work at least 3-4 times a day. Add long back-to-back meetings here and you get the perfect unproductiveness recipe.

The types of meetings that can cause issues

Unproductive get-togethers tend to replicate, so chances are high that you have already participated in a few internal meetings that stole your own time. See if some of these sound familiar.

1. Everyone to attend

All-in meetings like Friday afternoon drinks, online parties to celebrate pre-Christmas, and the like are great for team building. But if you have too many of those, or if you risk and make them into a weekly thing — one, you'll see people trying to occasionally skip them and two, this is going to be your weekly time stealer.

2. Recurring check-ins

On the topic of recurring time stealers, do you have daily stand-ups or weekly check-ins? It's good to know what everyone is going to focus on today, but it's the kind of meetings that can be replaced by asynchronous communication.

3. No agenda meetings

How many times have you been invited to a meeting where the purpose is unclear, and you end up sitting through a long and drawn-out explanation before getting to the point? Truth be told, people usually don't bother to write the agenda and that's why many of such meetings tend to be unproductive.

4. Pre-meeting meetings

To avoid unnecessary meetings, forget about the pre-meeting check-ins. Those can usually be transformed into an email but they will save hours of chit-chat and increase the chances of you getting a clear agenda.

How to reduce unnecessary meetings

1) Introduce meeting-free days

Start your fewer meetings goal by introducing several days when you can't have meetings at all and find ways not to try and compensate for it with dozens of meetings in the remaining days. This usually works best when it's a company policy and everyone adheres to this collaborative work culture.

2) Block time for important work

Don't hesitate to use that time blocking feature in your calendar to create some focus time for yourself or bring your meeting time to a bare minimum. Interruptions at work can wreak havoc on your productivity and it's only fair if you try to eliminate that.

3) Start registering time spent on meetings

It's easy to get deep into the bog of remote meetings or in-person meetings if you are not tracking the time you spent there. Effective meetings don't have to be frequent. Instead, they need to be well-planned and relevant.

4) Pay attention to what meetings are being called for

You don't have to attend every meeting you're invited to. If it's optional and you're a nice-to-have attendee, see if that meeting is more valuable than the tasks on your to-do list first.

5) Be clear on the purpose

When initiating a meeting, tell people why you need them there and what you're going to discuss. This is a good way for everyone to have realistic expectations from the value or lack thereof each meeting bears.

6) Regularly debrief as a group

When you already know who's focused on what, there's little need to meet on a call. You can use Slack, email, or any other collaborative tool you have for everyone to stay on the same page at all times.

7) Schedule work activities on your calendar

Plan out your work activities in your calendar so everyone can see that having a meeting only makes sense if it is something big enough to distract you from your tasks.

8) Decline meetings without a clear meeting agenda

If you don't know why you're needed in that call, decline it. Or at least reach out to the person who initiated it and double-check what you're going to get out of that meeting.

9) Cut down on feedback meetings by communicating asynchronously

Async communication can free up a lot of space in your workload schedule. Writing a detailed email will take 10 minutes, while having a call with the to-and-fros might take an hour. In the end, it's all about the math.

10) Get rid of recurring meetings with a poor track record

If you have a few regular check-ins that you are really starting to doubt, see if you can cancel them altogether. If they are not bringing real value to all the attendees, you're wasting the company's money.

Final thoughts

Canceling most meetings might feel counterintuitive, especially if you're used to having half of your calendar blocked off by them. But to be more productive and efficient at work, everyone needs to take an analytical look into their current workflows and develop a deeper understanding of what work is going to be like in the future.

Are you ready to rediscover just how efficient you can get?

Enjoy the post? Sign up for the latest strategies, stories and product updates.

You might also like

Try Runn today for free!

Join over 10k users worldwide.
Start scheduling in less than 10 minutes.
No credit card needed