Back when I worked on the corporate side, I distinctly remember trying to get on my boss’ calendar.

It was impossible.

Why? Because she was booked with back-to-back meetings all day long. Double-booked, in fact.



Her story is hardly an uncommon one.

Many of my big corporate clients today face the same dilemma.

Meetings from 7:30 a.m. til 5:30 p.m.

Every day.

Every week.

(Note: You think the photo above is a joke? I’ve actually been in corporate meetings with this many people. Unbelievable)

Why are we hamstringing our leaders like this?

Consider the dilemma our leaders face:

  • They’re booked in meeting the majority of every day, leaving very little time to see or manage the teams they oversee.
  • They’re booked in meetings the majority of every day, leaving very little time to do any work.
  • They’re booked in meetings the majority of every day, leaving very little time to do any professional development, helping them stay ahead of the curve and competitive with other senior leaders.

Why are we doing this?

And, by the way, while we’re on the topic, how many of these meetings are truly worth their time?

Again, based on my previous corporate experience, I’d say half at most. The rest of the meetings could easily be done inside of 10 minutes with a viable agenda. But, that’s probably a different rant for a different blog post.

For now, I have a few pieces of advice to shrink the number of meetings each day–and ideas on how to feel more invigorated and refreshed from day-to-day:

Ask: Do we really need to meet?

This is the obvious tip, but it bears repeating. Do you really need to meet? If it’s just a status update or check-in, can you do it virtually via email?

Ask: Can we shorten the meeting by half?

Could your hour-long meeting be shorted to half hour? Probably. Which means you need an agenda–and you need to stay on task. Do both and you’ll be surprised how efficient you can be with your meetings.

No more meetings longer than one hour

If you’re scheduling a meeting that’s longer than one hour, you need to do more work in advance of the meeting. No one needs to meet for 2, 3 or 4 hours at a time. No one. I have yet to be convinced.

Block your calendar for desk time

This is a trick I learned early on in my career. And, I noticed a lot of the savvy execs did the same thing. Blocking an hour here and an hour here for “desk time” to plow through email and respond to urgent requests, or get things done that are on deadline.

Carve out five hours a month for professional development

Everyone has five hours a month. Especially for professional development. This should include: coffees with colleagues, local meet-ups (our new MIMA Meet-Ups are getting rave reviews!), local programming (resisting the urge to plug MIMA here, too!) and other educational or training-based events. If YOU don’t make time for your professional development–no one else will. Let me repeat that in all caps so you get the point: IF YOU DON’T MAKE TIME FOR YOUR PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT–NO ONE ELSE WILL. Got it?

photo credit: Decommissioning Safety Standards (02010081) via photopin (license)