One of the biggest challenges facing leaders today is meeting fatigue and the epidemic of unproductive meetings. When you ask any leader about their calendar these days, the response is often, "My calendar is unmanageable." It's not just back-to-back meetings, but sometimes two or even three meetings happening at a time.
Some leaders find themselves juggling multiple screens and logins, taking multitasking to the next level, but is it really?
In my own corporate experience, I spent hours upon hours in meetings, but I had an executive assistant who could help protect some small slivers of time each week on my calendar.
With the ever-increasing speed of change and the rising expectations for urgency, how can leaders be at their best? They plow through the day, switching contexts like crazy, leaving little room for actual work…or leadership!
As companies require their leaders to bring new thinking to the table, keep up with emerging trends and technologies that significantly impact strategy, and lead differently to meet the new expectations of a post-COVID workforce, leaders struggle to find a moment for a bathroom break or lunch.
Of course, we all have the opportunity to hold ourselves more accountable for our own time, our most precious resource. I've recommended and walked leaders through tools like the Eisenhower matrix, "start/stop/continue", and time tracking. These excellent approaches enhance focus, prioritize tasks, and manage time better. However, we've reached a point where companies need to more actively support their leaders in these efforts and in breaking the meeting culture.
We can delve into what's holding us back from setting boundaries or saying no. Still, it's less effective if leaders aren't provided with encouragement or examples of how to do this.
I've spent the last three weeks with three different clients in three states, discussing various leadership topics. The common theme that emerged across all these leaders' experiences and occupied the minds of everyone I spoke to was TIME — specifically, finding time on their calendars to do more: more of what's expected, more of what their teams need, and more of what makes them feel fulfilled and alive.
How can I find time in my day to lead ...and lead like I really want to? The desire to lead with intention is there, but stepping off the hamster wheel and making that desire a reality is incredibly challenging.
Shopify recently confronted this problem head-on by installing a calendar app to track the number of hours spent in meetings and their associated costs. By simply being aware of this data, they are on track to save $322,000 in meeting time costs in the first year alone.
During a discussion and facilitated brainstorming session about strategic priorities this week, one of my clients decided to focus on meeting and email overload as a strategy in itself!
Sometimes, awareness is all that's needed to drive change. Leaders are crying out for help as they feel conflicted, unprepared, and unsupported in giving their best in today's workplace. If we ask leaders to lead differently in this ever-changing world, organizations need to do something different to support them and their teams in this endeavor.
Support them in pushing back, support them in changing the trajectory of where we're headed, and support them in prioritizing the true value they bring to the table.
Here are four actions to consider in the fight against meeting fatigue at your organization:
What other ideas do you have to help leaders dig out of the meeting culture of today?
If you are ready to navigate these challenges and invest in your leaders, let’s connect.
“I would like to be less productive”, said no one ever! Often, my coaching clients are faced with overwhelming demands to increase the speed of decision making & delivery and caught up in that always-on / always-connected feeling – trying to keep pace by doing more, multi-tasking, context switching. While not intended, this approach can actually cause them to be less productive in the end.
It is so important to be present and mindful about what we are adding to our plate – prioritization is critical to helping us stay focused on high-value activities (the critical few things!) that drive successful outcomes.
Even more than that, a prioritization mindset is what will help us achieve our personal and professional best! When adopted, a prioritization mindset will create the space and energy to focus on the things that really matter.
So what can you do to adopt a prioritization mindset and how do you know when you get there?
As a leader, you hold true to the vision for the organization, you set the agenda and you make the rules. You establish boundaries and hold your team accountable to certain standards of performance. But are you giving yourself permission to set boundaries that protect your own happiness at work?
Boundaries set the tone for the emotional climate of the organization and reflect the behaviors you will allow and the culture you desire. When you set boundaries, you are making space for your personal goals and your best work as your best self.
If saying no is difficult for you, you may be drowning in a sea of Yes’s. Your to-do list is long and filled with tasks that weren’t originally on your radar and aren’t in support of the goals you set for yourself.
Know what matters to YOU – ask yourself these questions… does this request align to strategy or delight a customer? Does it play to my strengths, develop a blind spot, provides an opportunity?
When you say No, you are saying Yes to those things that excite you, advance your development, move you toward your goal.
It is easier to develop a complex solution than a simple one. Simplicity is hard but when it comes into focus, it creates abundance – in energy, time, meaningful work, health. It enables you to move away from complex, chaotic choices and begin thinking about your work and life in a different way.
Be intentional in looking for the simple solution, start planning ahead, stop watching so much tv, spend less time on social media. When you embrace simplicity, you embrace possibilities and become even more focused, confident, and committed to your direction in your career and your life.
When you feel depleted, you have nothing to give. It is easy to fill your time with the needs and priorities of others and activities you “should” do. Often personal priorities, self-care, “you time”, falls to the bottom of the list. If you are kind to yourself and consider your own needs, you will be able to show up fully for those around you.
When you commit to self-care, you are able to engage and contribute graciously so everyone benefits.
If you are stressed out, overwhelmed, or overcommitted, try some of these strategies. Developing and sustaining a prioritization mindset is one of the best ways to achieve more. More time and more energy to focus on activities that will help you reach your goals and achieve your personal and professional best.
Consider a professional business coach to help you narrow your focus, energy, resource so you can dedicate more of yourself to the few things that are going to make the biggest difference in your life!