When we first moved to online meetings over two years ago, everyone was scrambling to figure out how we stay connected and there were SO MANY meetings. Since people didn’t have to travel, our “availability” created a misconception that daily back-to-back meetings are possible. As we all know, this meeting pace is not possible, sustainable or enjoyable! Join me this week as I highlight three actions you can take to overcome online meeting fatigue.
Take a break from accepting every meeting invite. Develop – or revisit – your current priorities and assess your calendar based on those priorities. Which groups are most important for you to participate with right now? Are there meetings that someone else could join and represent you? Do your “standing” meetings have a clear purpose? Do your groups need to meet every week or every other week? Pause, reflect and clarify your need to participate in groups and meetings.
If you are the one hosting meetings, consider the purpose of your meetings and a realistic meeting frequency. If you meet monthly and that is too much for you and the attendees, consider an every other month or quarterly approach. If you are weary, most of your participants are likely also weary. Even if you have a few folks who loudly protest fewer meetings, you need to consider your energy, capacity and what is best for the group overall.
Schedule “no meeting time” on your calendar as part of your “ideal week”. Create space in your schedule so that you can focus on your biggest priorities and do the thinking, writing, developing, reflecting necessary to do your work well. Rather than trying to find time at the end of your day or on weekends, block time during your week. Consider the days and times of day when you are at your best and give some of that time to yourself and your most important work. For instance, you may create entire days that have no meetings or you may have half-days devoted to no meetings. Blocking time that does not involve meetings can re-energize you for days and times that you do have meetings.
When you take the time to break from your constant meeting schedule and block your time, you have to practice setting boundaries with those decisions. Inevitably someone will ask you to meet during a time that you have blocked for no meetings. If you look at your calendar and give up your no meeting time to another meeting, you will continue to experience online meeting fatigue. Also, if someone continues to insist that you have a monthly meeting and you know it’s best for you and the group to meet every other month, you need to practice standing strong with that decision. In her Dare to Lead Book, Brené Brown highlights the story of a friend who describes boundaries as defining what is ok and what is not ok. You get to choose that for you! When it comes to online meetings, you have to set boundaries on what is ok and what is not ok for you. This reminds me of Stephen Covey’s Habit 1: Be ProactiveⓇ. We often have more choices than we think we do, and when we practice being proactive rather than reactive when it comes to our time and meetings, we will be able to overcome online meeting fatigue.
So what about you? What are you going to practice this week to overcome meeting fatigue?
If you would like more support in your online meeting work, check out my resource, How to Lead Your Best Online Meeting Yet!