‘I’ll just pop some time in…’ How to deal with meeting overload

‘I’ll just pop some time in…’ How to deal with meeting overload
Opinion: Career Leaders

Here are four strategies to change approaches to meetings to make them work for you.


“I survived another meeting that could’ve been an email” — we’ve all seen the memes. And, while amusing, the fact remains that post-pandemic meetings have become more commonplace as technology and remote working combine to make them easier than ever.

“I’ll just pop some time in the diary”, is the new blue-sky thinking, and equally irritating. But how can you deal with meeting overload while juggling client and colleague expectations around communication and your actual workload? That is especially difficult if you work in an agency with many different stakeholders.

By setting some firm but polite boundaries around your time and expectations that will result in a quality over quantity approach to meetings.

1.   Ask for an agenda

It is not rude to ask the meeting organiser for an agenda ahead of time or to distribute one in advance of the meeting if you own the diary invite.

This serves several functions and enables all participants to get the most from their time together.

Firstly, if you know what the point of the meeting is you can firstly determine if your presence is even required.

Setting an agenda ahead of time ensures all participants turn up prepared and ready to move the project — and the meeting — forward. Having a working document that details all points to be covered is an easy way to keep meetings on track, and update clients at the same time.

2.   Block your diary

You need to guard your own time and own your own diary, so block out a minimum of two to three hours each day for deep work.

If you tend to spend the day running from meeting to meeting with an hour here or there between to catch up on work, you will never be able to focus on strategic work as you’re constantly in fire-fighting mode.

While you may think that you’re managing, and you possibly are, you’re also not excelling which can impact career progression and client satisfaction. Similarly, block-book meetings back to back so you don’t lose 20 minutes here and there throughout the day.

3.   Stick to regular meetings

Setting and sticking to regular client meetings make it easier to turn down ad hoc meeting invites with a firm but polite “let’s cover that at Tuesday’s meeting”.

Regular communication and updates will reduce the panic around communication, and the frequency of meetings.

4.   Seek appreciation

And then there remains the fact that some people and some work cultures just like meetings and nothing you implement will change that.

If you’ve done all you can to try and change an unmanageable meeting culture, it might be time to move on.

Moving to an employer that celebrates your love for a meeting agenda may well be the solution.

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