Meeting Overload? Prevent Them from Killing Your Productivity

Ordenador con una reunión online.

Meetings are  public enemy number one of the corporate world. Nobody likes them — and it’s no secret. Attending too many can be draining and stressful for anyone. But the real cost comes in the form of lost motivation and wasted time for employees, leading to a decline in productivity and quality. It’s not surprising, then, that a study by HBR found that: 

92% of employees view meetings as costly and unproductive.

The data also reveals that meetings often run 30% longer than planned, and 34% of the time is spent discussing unrelatedtopics.

This doesn’t just apply to online meetings; it’s even worse when it comes to in-person meetings. According to Microsoft’s annual report, nearly 2 out of 3 people finds difficult to have the time and energy to do their work.

How do meetings affect your productivity?


Meeting overload, characterized by the excessive scheduling of meetings throughout the week, has become the new pandemic. There are countless reasons why investing hours upon hours in calls becomes ineffective. 

The usual suspects: meetings called without a clear purpose or without proper preparation, turning into a meaningless encounter. Here are some ways this condition impacts employee productivity:

  • Wasting valuable time: Spending too much time in meetings and not enough time on actual execution.
  • General fatigue: Feeling mentally and physically exhausted from consecutive online and/or in-person meetings.
  • Loss of motivation: Experiencing a sense that work is not moving forward.
  • It affects decision-making: When there are too many participants and an excessive number of meetings, it becomes challenging to make decisions effectively, leading to reduced productivity.
  • Distraction: Being unable to concentrate on tasks or have dedicated time to focus on work due to a packed schedule.

We don’t need to bombard you with expert statistics. Just take a glance at your calendar and see how many hours you spend in meetings. But before giving you any advice, you must take a moment to review which meetings are truly essential to your work. Once you’ve done that quick analysis, we can move forward.

Peones de un tablero ajedrez.

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Tips and advice to optimize work meetings


There are work methods specifically designed to enhance workflow efficiency. One is Scrum, which allows the team to have almost real-time updates on project progress.

However, because we understand that, in some cases, meetings are unavoidable, we’ve compiled some valuable tips to ensure that your meetings don’t consume more time than necessary. By implementing these strategies, you can make your meetings more efficient and productive.


1. Decline unnecessary meetings. You may suffer from FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), but it’s important to realize that it’s perfectly fine to skip a meeting if your presence isn’t necessary. You can always stay informed about any changes or updates through a colleague.

2. Define a clear objective. It’s crucial to have a clear understanding that a meeting is scheduled because it will genuinely be beneficial for addressing a specific topic. A helpful approach is to consider what you want to achieve by the end of the meeting.

3. Establish the frequency. In many projects, it’s not necessary to have 2 or 3 meetings per week. Therefore, it’s essential to select a day im which you can review the progress made so far and set the next steps.

4. Fine-tune the schedule. Find the time slot that least disrupts your day and, consequently, your productivity. Some examples of best practices include scheduling meetings early in the morning, in the hour before lunch, or late in the afternoon. This will allow you to work without interruptions for extended periods and maintain your productivity.

Reloj en una pared.

5. Limit the duration. According to expert Donna McGeorge, author of “The 25-Minute Meeting: Half the Time, Double the Impact,” a meeting shouldn’t exceed 25 minutes. This aligns with the Pomodoro Technique, which suggests that 25 minutes is the maximum concentration time for an individual.

6. Invite only essential participants. It’s essential to include individuals who will actively contribute to the meeting. Involving every member of a department is usually not necessary. Review and decide if everyone needs to be invited. Those not involved, along with their productivity, will appreciate it.

7. Be punctual. It’s worth emphasizing that meetings should start and end on time. Respecting this principle is the responsibility of all participants.

8. Recap the information. It’s important to compile all the information discussed and summarize it in a concise document, ensuring that all participants are aware of the key points. Therefore, take thorough notes during the meeting.

9. Organize days without meetings. It may seem obvious, but if you examine your calendar, you’ll likely find weeks where you haven’t had any meeting-free days. Setting aside one or two days where you can fully focus on your regular tasks without interruptions will significantly boost your productivity. Many companies, such as Bumble and Slack, are adopting practices like implementing meeting-free days as a solution to mitigate burnout.

Many of these measures will depend on internal decisions within companies, so they may not always be entirely within our control. However, we can still take proactive steps ourselves to protect our productivity by implementing some of these tips.

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