- Executives spend an estimated 23 hours a week in meetings
- Many of these meetings are unnecessary
- Cancel meetings and open up time to spend on revenue-generating activities.
Stewart Butterfield, the founder of productivity tool Slack, radically changed his life when he ruthlessly claimed back his time by eliminating all his scheduled meetings – except the ones that were absolutely necessary.
His dramatic actions are supported by research showing that meetings have become longer and more frequent over the past 50 years. Today, executives spend an average of nearly 23 hours a week sitting in meetings.
“We just went through this process of cancelling almost every recurring meeting that we had to see which ones we really needed,” says Butterfield. “We probably do need some of the ones we cancelled, and they’ll come back – but we’ll wait until we actually need them again.”
The big idea: If it can be done via email, don’t set up a meeting
Regular meetings may foster collaboration and connection, but they’re often time-consuming and as a result, counterproductive.
Billionaire investor and Shark Tank US judge Mark Cuban lives by email over in-person meetings and even phone calls, where possible. Cuban considers email a productivity tool and a defining life hack.
“No meetings or phone calls unless I’m picking up a cheque. Everything is email,” says Cuban.
What’s in it for you: Focus on revenue-generating activities
Unless they are sales meetings, few meetings actually result in revenue generation. They tend to be operationally focused, occur more frequently than they need to, and include people who don’t need to be there.
Steering clear of meetings and phone calls on the other hand gives you greater control over your day. Using email instead will bring you closer to achieving your daily goals and managing your time effectively. This consequently increases productivity, focus, and engagement.
The key to applying Butterfield and Cuban’s strategy successfully is to limit your time on email to time blocks. Avoid constantly checking your email as this will defeat the purpose of saving time while working efficiently.
Make it happen
3 Times you can swap out meetings for email:
- You need a quick update. Send each team member an email or instant message asking for an update on their to-do list. Each response will help you decide if a follow-up meeting or an email listing the remaining action items is necessary.
- You’d like to share information. Get your team up to speed with new information by simply emailing the document and marking it as urgent. Ensure all your emails aren’t labelled as urgent. Alternatively, ask for confirmation of receipt or request a read receipt.
- You’re asking for feedback. Instead of going around the boardroom table, give your team a chance to respond independently. This may yield unique responses, driving the best outcome.