How many meetings is too many?

May 16, 2019


How many times have we heard the old adage, “there’s only so much time in the day,” without stopping to take it seriously? The truth is sometimes there simply isn’t enough time in the day — particularly the work day — to accomplish all that needs to be done. And let’s be honest, consistently being unable to finish a task can have detrimental effects on our stress levels and emotional health.

Like an unhealthy habit, too many meetings can take us away from important work, disrupting our productivity with little point or outcome. “Meeting overload” — when your day is so busy you have no time to actually do the job you’ve been assigned — is the enemy of productivity. The average employee attends 62 meetings a month, with over half of those meetings being deemed “a waste of time.” Yikes!

To avoid burnout, it’s important for yourself, your employees and your coworkers to ensure there is time each week for uninterrupted work. No meetings, no calls — just a period dedicated to accomplishing tasks and projects. A never-ending barrage of stimuli, such as meetings, extraneous conversations and even multitasking, causes elevated feelings of stress and decreased feelings of overall wellness. When you’re overwhelmed, you’re simply not thriving.

Of course, some meetings are essential. They allow workplace synergy, encouraging teamwork, collaboration, and accountability. But if we are being candid, many of our meetings could be better presented as an email, saving our employees from the undue stress of continually switching focus. So, how do we determine when it’s healthier for our staff to meet or to simply receive a less intrusive form of communication?

Your meeting should be an email or phone call if:
  • You have a quick question
    Ask yourself if your questions can be resolved by having a brief discussion. Write down your concerns and send it off to the appropriate audience. If you’re still unclear after their response, ask for five minutes to clarify. Not all meetings have to be lengthy. In fact, it helps employee focus, productivity and concentration to keep communication clear and concise.
  • Not everyone can make it
    There’s little point in holding a drawn out meeting if all the pertinent players cannot be present. If your team requires a meeting, be sure to schedule it when everyone can attend. In the meantime, check in via email or phone call.
  • You need to share data or information
    Extensive data or information is best digested through email, rather than a presentation. While formal presentations have their place in business, the average individual is able to better understand and follow data points when they can read and absorb them on their own time, rather than taking hasty notes as a speaker clicks through PowerPoint slides. Cut the stress by allowing employees to digest information at their own pace.
  • You require feedback or updates
    You no longer have to wait until the next meeting to check in with your team members regarding their progress. With email or office instant messenger services, check in with employees and coworkers quickly and efficiently throughout the task or project and save them any extra disruptions.

While meetings are important, it is also important to manage office time well and care for the individuals in your workplace. Before scheduling a meeting, try to disseminate the information via email. If there’s a lack of clarity, set up that meeting! However, before you do, remember that there are a few practices to make your meetings more effective.

When you need to have a meeting:
  • Set Goals
    Meetings are beneficial to team morale and outlook if they set clear, precise and obtainable goals and objectives. Setting time aside for clarity is always in everyone’s best interest.
  • Make sure you have a clear agenda
    There’s nothing worse than sitting through a meeting that drags on with no clear point. Before setting up a meeting, ensure you are prepared!
  • Keep it quick
    There’s no need to keep a meeting going if it’s no longer productive. Stick to your agenda and timeline to maximize efficiency.
  • Only include necessary participants
    Do not bog down members of your staff with unnecessary meetings that do not pertain to them. Keep meetings small and infrequent to keep productivity and outlooks high.

Does your workplace have too many meetings or a stellar balance between email and in-person communication? Have you noticed a correlation between meeting amount and office place morale?