Ideally, we would have a system or a tool that would unify the scheduling of meeting and of tasks, that is, the actual work that needs to be done. As it is, however, task management systems and the calendaring software that is used to schedule meetings are two separate entities and usually don’t support the most minimal coordination. This often means that you just keep on planning meetings as long as your calendar still allows it, at the same time burning the time that you need to get around to your tasks. In other words: Meetings, although they can be useful, are productivity killers.
Until our systems are able to unify task and meeting scheduling, here’s a simple but golden tip to minimise the detrimental effect of meetings on your productivity. Make the deal with yourself, and as many as possible of your colleagues, that you only schedule meetings in the afternoons. This is hard at first, especially because you sometimes do have to (graciously) decline making meeting appointments, even if the only possibility is in the morning. Think about it this way: If you don’t do this, you’re going to have to spend nights and weekends catching up on the actual work, so you are absolutely in your right saying no. This approach has the added advantage of keeping your mornings free for contiguous blocks of concentrated work, when most people are at their intellectual best.
Let us know in the comments what you think!