An inconvenient truth that affects us all

Why you are not paid for meetings

You should be critical of yourselves in which sessions you attend

Time Insights by Google (Source)

The number of meetings says nothing about the quality of one’s own work

We would probably all sign that we are not happy with the way our professional schedule looks: We feel like we are running from one appointment to the next and would like to have more time. I would also argue that the corona pandemic has further exacerbated the situation. Meetings are now scheduled one right after the other, as we no longer have to search for physical meeting rooms, but can conveniently jump from one video call to the next. The result at the end of the day is that we are completely exhausted and feel like our head is bursting. Wouldn’t it be much nicer at the end of the day to be able to say, “I really created something important today”?

“We surveyed 182 senior managers in a range of industries: 65% said meetings keep them from completing their own work. 71% said meetings are unproductive and inefficient. 64% said meetings come at the expense of deep thinking. 62% said meetings miss opportunities to bring the team closer together.” (Harvard Business Review)

We must not forget the harsh consequences that this high number of meetings has for a company: Employees complain that they have no time to work and need more support in the form of new employees. After a short training period, the process starts all over again and the new employee also complains about too many meetings and too little time. As a result, work is outsourced to external service providers. As a result, the know-how no longer lies within the own company, as one is only busy managing external employees.

Classic meetings do not stand for creativity and innovative strength

I was startled by the comment of a colleague when we talked about the possibilities of reducing the number of meetings. He said that it was the duty of the management to issue a guideline that blindingly keeps times in the calendars of employees free of meeting bookings. So the responsibility for one’s own time management is simply delegated to the management — we can’t make it that easy for ourselves! No one but us can better assess when an exchange was meaningful and when it was not.

We should always ask ourselves, what added value did this meeting really have for the company, the attendees and our work?

Meetings affect how people collaborate and how they get their own work done. In an increasingly connected world, how we want to collaborate is critical — it’s the foundation of our work culture. “If the alternative to more meetings is more autocratic decision-making, less input from all levels throughout the organization, and fewer opportunities to ensure alignment and communication by personal interaction, then […]“ everybody would agree that more meetings are necessary.

Google Time Insights of my Google Calender
How I continuously try to improve my time
  • The meeting is not prepared in the form of a clear task to be completed.
  • Timekeeping and follow-up of the content no longer takes place.

What can be done better

Much has been written about how to make meetings more meaningful. The most important thing is to dare to cancel invitations. I was incredibly pleased (and surprised) the first time a colleague asked me if it would be okay to use a short slot of my focus time. But she would promise to keep the meeting short and prepared. So there was a consciousness to use the time as much as possible with concrete content. It speaks for and not against you if you block out focus time to work.

  • Set Focus Time Blockers and point out to colleagues that these focused working hours are important to you and do not stand for a blocker that can easily be overbooked.
  • Formulate meeting invitations differently: Don’t say, “Who is interested in attending the meeting?” Instead, say “Who would attend on behalf of the team and share the most important key takeaways?” By phrasing it differently, you avoid building pressure. Even if someone is invited as an option, they are likely to attend anyway because of the guilty conscience.
  • Avoid optional invitations. Either someone can really add value to the meeting or not. Otherwise, it is your job to inform potential stakeholders with the takeaways.
  • In your calendar software, change the default function of how long new meetings are scheduled. Not per se 1std, but rather 15–30 min.
  • When it comes to creative work, session uses workshops instead of frontal meetings (this usually requires deeper preparation).
  • Actively give feedback if you felt a meeting was not meaningful enough.
  • Use the functions like in gSuite or Microsfot 365 to give direct feedback on presentations, tables or documents. Then you probably won’t need any more coordination meetings.



✦ Helping Visioneers to shape the digitized future and bring their ideas to life. As an engineer and entrepreneur I would like to inspire and generate sparks. ✦

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Jan Wokittel

✦ Helping Visioneers to shape the digitized future and bring their ideas to life. As an engineer and entrepreneur I would like to inspire and generate sparks. ✦