Just Say No
A client told me how
frustrating it is to attend meetings all day. He can't get any of his
work done and it's basically impossible to have any semblance of a healthy
work-life balance. Unfortunately, the amount of time you spend in meetings
increases as you advance within the organization. Anyone at the director
level knows that they are gone often from 9 to 5 just attending meetings.
They barely have time to check email or voice mail. Attending to their
important projects becomes almost impossible unless they work longer and
Many companies have
a meeting-driven culture. It's an opportunity to connect, chat or just
catch-up. Often times, the meeting wasn't actually needed at all or you
just don't need to attend. You can't change the culture. The meetings
will always be there, but your time will not. So, let's look at 7 tips
on how to manage and eliminate meetings.
7 Ways to Say No To Meetings.
(1) Leave meetings
If you don't need to be at the meeting the entire time, leave early so
you can get other work done. This might feel impossible to do because
it might appear like you don't care. However, informing the meeting organizer
that you have something important that needs to get done is a great excuse
free up time to higher priority work.
(2) Delegate the
meetings to someone else.
You can delegate and empower someone else to attend the meeting in your
place. Afterwards, ask him or her to "download" the important
points so you are still informed.
(3) Suggest alternatives
Oftentimes, a memo, quick conference call or one-on-one discussion can
take the place of a formal meeting. If you sense an opportunity to stamp
out an unnecessary meeting, take the initiative. You'll not only free
up time for yourself, you'll win the undying admiration of your coworkers.
(4) For each meeting,
decide how important it is for you to attend.
Compare your most urgent, important projects to each meeting you need
to attend. Decide which is more worthy of your time. Most of the time
you will choose the important work and decide the meeting is less important.
This will help you learn how to say no to meetings.
(5) Make sure meetings
are prepared, have a clear agenda and a limited time frame.
You can influence the people who are preparing the meeting to be prepared
and have a clear and defined agenda. Suggest a time limit on each discussion
item and the meeting itself so it can run smoothly and efficiently.
(6) Go to 50% of
the meetings you are currently attending.
If you compare which is more important - attending meetings or getting
your more important projects done -you will realize that you can eliminate
at least 50% of the meetings you attend. By making this choice you will
be focused on what is most important and becoming more productive.
(7) Block out time
in your calendar to do the work that is being pushed aside by meetings.
You have emails, things on your to-do list, projects and tasks that need
to get done daily. Block out time during your day to catch up and get
the work done. You will send a message to yourself and others that getting
your work done is a priority.