Consulting Best Practices

How to Make Time for Real Work amid Endless Meetings

Managers and employees invested in “collaborative activities” can spend upward of 80 percent of their time in meetings, on the phone, or answering emails. Faced with numbers like that, how do you find any time leftover to actually do work? In an article for Fast Company, Laura Vanderkam shares some tips to make the best of the little time you have.


Firstly, do not get overly optimistic—in spite of your best intentions, things will get in the way of you being able to schedule a concrete block of “You” time every day. To be more realistic, instead look at how you can inject two or three uninterrupted time slots into each week. The important thing is that these slots happen at all; keeping them on a regular schedule is not quite as critical.

When you do get the chance to actually perform your important work, make the most of it. That means ignoring email and phones to the best of your ability. The early morning is typically a good time to do work because your mind is fresh and interruptions are likely to be more infrequent. And if you really want to avoid interruptions, you could always schedule an “appointment” with yourself so that it looks like you are busy on the calendar. (It cannot be dishonest if it is true!) You could also tell people that you only have meetings within certain hours, like 10-6. A strategy like that means you will typically only have meetings up till 5, because people on a traditional work schedule are not going to want to schedule late meetings.

If you are particularly dedicated and enjoy what you do, you can get up early on weekends and do some of your big work at home before the family has woken up. In any case, it pays to be proactive:

Of course, the best way to carve out time to think is to spend less time in meetings. The problem is that once a meeting is under way, it’s hard to stop it, and even if you see quickly that it’s pointless, you’ve already wasted the time and energy getting there. Get in the habit, perhaps on Friday afternoons, of triaging your calendar. Look at your meetings for the next week and see what looks marginal. Canceling or shortening something in advance is easier and more humane than doing it in the moment.

You can view the original article here:

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