We’ve all been there: seeing a meeting mysteriously pop up on our calendar with no explanation, agenda or stated goal. Sitting through a meeting we really don’t need to be a part of. Or reaching the end of a meeting-filled day and realizing we haven’t really accomplished anything. 

It’s especially insidious when so many of us are working from home during the pandemic, struggling with boundaryless “permawork” and spending entire days on Zoom calls. So perhaps suffering from an acute case of too-many-meetings malaise, I took a few minutes at Thrive’s weekly all-hands to share some best practices designed to help us course-correct away from some of our bad habits and create some more productive new ones. The goal? To cancel as many meetings as possible! And to fully empower everyone at Thrive to decline any meeting they deem not worth their time. Here are a few of the tips and questions I shared, so we can be respectful of each other’s time and make the best use of our own: 

  • Every meeting invite must include a clear agenda and desired outcome.
  • If relevant, send a pre-read. Never spend any meeting time with someone walking you through a deck and reading you the contents of each slide. Assume your colleagues can read. 
  • Don’t default to 30-minute meetings. Can a meeting be reduced to 15 minutes?
  • Can you make your meeting a walking meeting? One of my favorite Microsteps is turning at least a couple of my Zoom meetings into phone calls so that I can take them while walking. You can walk in your neighborhood or even walk around your house while speaking on the phone. There is no universal law that every virtual interaction has to be on Zoom, Skype, WebEx, Hangouts or BlueJeans.
  • Create a Google Doc for each meeting so the owner can assign action items to everyone who attends.
  • Block off time on your calendar for deep work. Don’t assume it will just get done when everything else is done. Meetings expand to fill all of the time available on your calendar — it’s the law of meetings.

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  • Arianna Huffington

    Founder & CEO of Thrive Global

    Arianna Huffington is the founder and CEO of Thrive Global, the founder of The Huffington Post, and the author of 15 books, including Thrive and The Sleep Revolution. In 2016, she launched Thrive Global, a leading behavior change tech company with the mission of changing the way we work and live by ending the collective delusion that burnout is the price we must pay for success.

    She has been named to Time Magazine's list of the world’s 100 most influential people and the Forbes Most Powerful Women list. Originally from Greece, she moved to England when she was 16 and graduated from Cambridge University with an M.A. in economics. At 21, she became president of the famed debating society, the Cambridge Union.

    She serves on numerous boards, including Onex, The B Team, JUST Capital, and Gloat.

    Her last two books, Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder and The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night At A Time, both became instant international bestsellers. Most recently, she wrote the foreword to Thrive Global's first book Your Time to Thrive: End Burnout, Increase Well-being, and Unlock Your Full Potential with the New Science of Microsteps.