5 Tips to Fight Meeting Burnout

May 19th, 2021

By Dan Polifiore, Head of Training & Change Management

Flexible aka hybrid aka remote workforces and work practices have quickly become the accepted way to keep working, and I love it. I talk constantly about how great it is that we can all have this flexibility in our lives, and still get our work done.

But as Uncle Ben told us, “with great power flexibility comes great responsibility risk of meeting burnout…” (or something like that.)

So many of us are spending hours each day in Teams Meetings, and I’m going to just come out and say it: I think a lot of these meetings aren’t necessary.

All of these unnecessary meetings achieve is extra time added in your timesheets (nicely done), and make you not want to join another meeting today.

So how can we avoid the burnout? How can we make the most of our screen time and have more meaningful meetings?

Let me jump up on my soap box and give you a few ideas.

Make your meetings purposeful with an agenda.

If you are the meeting organiser, make sure you set the agenda clearly in the meeting invite and more importantly, stick to it in the meeting!

If things start going off track, think about ‘parking’ other topics for another time.

When you create your agenda, think carefully. Ask yourself if this agenda is achieving your goal for the meeting. On that note, what IS your goal for the meeting?

An agenda will help you keep on track, on time, and on target. Don’t be afraid to cut your agenda down next time.

Is the audience right?

Ever been invited to a meeting and you’re not sure why? You should ask…

I find this happens a fair bit to me, so I’ve started asking the meeting organiser what input they are expecting me to bring to the meeting.

If it’s a busy day for me, and there is no clearly defined input or value I can bring, I’ll skip the meeting and ask for notes, however I’ll be available if I’m needed.

If you’re the meeting organiser, when inviting people to your meeting check that everyone you’ve invited is going to have input and that you have communicated your expectations of their input.

Set reasonable boundaries.

Tricky one, but its value is underrated. Set yourself some boundaries for meetings with regards to times.

As an example, I try as much as is reasonable to not have meetings until 9:30am. That gives me an hour to catch up on overnight emails, prepare things for the day, and even get setup for the first meeting.

You’ll find that very small changes like this will make a huge difference to your mental state.

Obviously, this is very role- and organisation-specific, but I encourage you to have a conversation around it, and above all, make sure you communicate these changes to your colleagues! Make sure they know what has changed, and what they can expect from you.

Timing is everything.

You don’t have to book meetings in 30- or 60-minute intervals… you can in fact book a 45-minute meeting if that’s all it will take!

Just as importantly: if you’re done early you don’t have to keep people! Don’t feel like you have to fill the whole time! People will love you because you’re giving them 10 minutes of their day back.

If your day is jam-packed, book 45-minute slots and buy yourself 15-minutes between each meeting to shift mindsets and prepare for the next one. Your brain will be glad you did.

Respect each other’s time.

This one is hard because it’s not always possible, but what I’m getting a here is that if you are taking up someone’s last hour of free time in their calendar for the day, ask yourself how important it is for them to be there.

No-one likes to be back-to-back-to-back all day long, so keep that in mind.

This kind of speaks to the previous points as well in that you should be thinking of the correct audience, the correct timespan for the meeting, and making sure that the agenda is correct and clear.

Above all else, make sure you’ve thought about whether the meeting needs to be a meeting. or could you get the same result out of a well-written email?

There are so many points to discuss when it comes to ‘best practise’ around Teams Meetings that this only just barely scratches the surface, but it’s really important that we all keep these things in mind to make sure that not only are we getting the most out of our meetings, but we’re getting the best out of our time.