Kristel De Groot is the Co-Founder of Your Super. She was listed in Forbes 30 Under 30 and Inc’s Rising Star.
Have you ever looked at your calendar on Sunday night and dreaded the week ahead? Each and every moment was booked by something you needed to do or someone who wanted to connect with you.
As founders, we’re used to being busy. Leading effectively means giving time to your team. However, what is too much time? While scaling over the last few years, my partner and I have discovered how to get our calendars (mostly) under control. Here’s what we learned:
1. Have ‘no meeting’ days.
We instituted a company-wide policy of “No Meetings Wednesdays.” This is a day when everyone puts their head down and gets in the zone. Without interruptions, it’s easier to get into a flow state of work, which is so beneficial to have built into your week.
2. Differentiate between brainstorms, updates and decision meetings.
Ask yourself and your team if your attendance at a meeting has been requested because you are needed to make a key decision or if the team will be brainstorming ideas or presenting updates. If it’s one of the latter two, ask if the notes can be shared via Slack after the meeting.
3. Be sure everyone is prepared.
Be clear about what is needed before the meeting so you don’t spend the meeting doing work that could have been prepared ahead of time.
4. Include an agenda.
Productive meetings start with an agenda and have a clearly defined goal. Whether you’re trying to decide on a strategy, confirm a new hire or even just share ideas, stating the goal of the meeting helps set expectations for all meeting participants.
5. Stick to the agenda.
I like to include time to encourage a free flow of ideas but also designate someone in the meeting to be a timekeeper to help bring everyone back to the agenda.
6. Be mindful of time.
There are only so many 30-minute increments in a day. Do you really need a full half hour for your meeting or can everything be accomplished with a 15-minute check-in? It’s amazing how much you can get done when everyone is focused and succinct.
7. Schedule your meetings in blocks.
If possible, try to time-block your meetings. Whether you prefer to group them in the morning or the afternoon, keeping them in blocks will help create uninterrupted time to get work done. One word of warning, though, don’t forget to schedule a 15-minute break in your meeting block so you have time to hydrate, take a bathroom break or have a quick, healthy snack.
8. Perform quarterly meeting audits.
Every first week of the quarter, take a look at recurring meetings and decide if you really need to continue having the meeting going forward. Does it need to be every week, or can you switch to a biweekly or even a monthly cadence?
Recurring meetings can quickly overwhelm your calendar, so it’s important to regularly evaluate whether they are a good use of your time. For example, at the beginning of every quarter, we remove all recurring meetings from our calendar and build them up from there again.
9. Just say ‘no.’
Remember that your time, space and calendar are yours. You can say “no.” In fact, it’s quite a powerful practice. It’s important to make sure you have enough time to think about solutions, determine what the biggest priorities are and to truly steer the company in the right direction.
Our job, as leaders, isn’t just to spend all of our time in meetings and to support and connect with our managers. The most important part of our jobs is to show up as our best selves, fully energized and engaged. That’s just not possible if you’re spending eight hours in meetings every day. As a leader, it’s your job to prioritize your time so that you’re bringing 100% to the high-impact meetings where your energy and engagement can help move the company forward.