Some tips for unchaining from those back-to-back virtual meetings.

Almost every coaching client I’ve met with over the past few months has mentioned how exhausted they are with non-stop virtual meetings. As coaches, one of our key roles is to help leaders take some time to reflect both during coaching and throughout their lives – this has become very challenging in the age of continuous virtual meetings. What’s a leader to do?

Here are some questions for reflection:

1. Does EVERY meeting need to be a full 60 minutes?  We default to hour long meetings, but is that always necessary? What if we all agreed to schedule 45-minute meetings and end on time? One of my clients scheduled 15-minute check ins with each of his team members when ordinarily he would have scheduled 30 minutes. He found most of the meetings took 20 minutes, but that was far better than if he scheduled 30 minutes and they went 35-40 minutes. With shorter meetings, you might even have a moment to reflect on what you want to accomplish in your next meeting.

2. Can I better use this meeting to get real work done?  Sometimes it seems we meet and all we do is create more actions for our already packed list. How might you tackle some of those actions and come to closure during the meeting? Taking a few minutes at the beginning of the meeting to clearly define desired outcomes may help.

3. Do I need to be at this meeting?  Is your attendance mandatory to advance the work done at this meeting or are you attending for information only? Is there someone else who could represent you who’s already going to the meeting? Do you have a team member who would benefit from going to the meeting in your place? Can you partner with someone to have them attend the meeting this week and send you a quick summary and you can offer to do the same for them next week? Can you decline the meeting altogether?

4.  Can I set a “meeting-free” zone on my calendar? What if you and your team all agree to hold Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2-5pm “meeting-free”? One of my clients set aside 2 hours every Wednesday afternoon so she could take time to focus on more strategic topics for her team. The time could also be used to do real tactical work, rather than fitting it into nights and weekends!

Covid-19 isn’t going anywhere soon and I suspect neither are virtual meetings. It’s time to get a handle on this latest assault to our lives – and to carve out time to reflect, relax, and reconnect at home!