While meetings have generally been shorter during the pandemic, there has been a 12.9% increase in meetings scheduled and a 13.5% increase in attendees, according to a study conducted by Harvard Business School. Too many meetings can actually be counterproductive, ineffective, and contribute to burnout and fatigue. Instead of overscheduling, here are six ways to host more mindful meetings:
Only Schedule Necessary Meetings
Considering screen time is already at all-time highs, assess if a meeting is necessary before scheduling. Perhaps a direct phone call may be more effective, information can be shared via email, or everyone can work on a shared file to gather feedback.
Create Structure with Clear Agendas
Clearly state the purpose of the meeting up front, send out agenda items early, and assure there is a meeting leader to keep the discussion on track. To help with team communication, make sure someone is assigned to record decision items, meeting notes and next steps.
Reduce Meeting Times Whenever Possible
Most hour-long meetings can be condensed to 45-minutes, and 30-minute check-in meetings can often be completed in 20 minutes time. Allowing just 10-15 extra minutes in between people’s schedules can help provide brief mental breaks and restoration throughout the day.
Prepare for Meetings
Instead of dedicating the opening 10 minutes to getting attendees up to speed, gather and send out any updates prior to the meeting. Make sure to have at least five minutes prior to the meeting to be properly set up and ready, with any audio/visual or screen sharing needs prepared, so that colleagues are not waiting, and the meeting can run efficiently.
Virtual meetings are most productive when all attendees are fully present and focused. Close extra applications or unnecessary windows, avoid checking your phone, listen closely and speak up when necessary.
Learn to Graciously Decline
Many people are invited to meetings out of courtesy or inclusion, but attendance is not always required. There are ways to respectfully decline, provide input or feedback without having to meet, or even speak up to suggest a meeting wrap up early if all discussion items are completed. Being respectful of personal time and others’ time is part of a healthy work culture.
If feelings of burnout, stress, and fatigue are taking a toll on mental health and well-being, it may help to speak with a clinician through your EAP for personalized support. Mental health sessions are available through your EAP provided by ACI Specialty Benefits, and all services are complimentary, confidential and open to family members. Contact ACI Specialty Benefits at 800.932.0034, firstname.lastname@example.org or through the myACI Benefits mobile app to get started.