So much of minimalism is about choosing exactly where you want to spend your limited resources – including time. For most of us, we’d rather spend our time in fewer meetings. Even great meetings, if scheduled at the wrong times can render your day entirely useless. It takes the average person 25 minutes to get back into flow, our most productive state, after switching context, which means that if we have meetings every other hour, we’re basically spending our entire day jumping from one thing to the next without completing productive work.
There’s a simple fix that helps you regain productive work time: plan ahead and schedule it.
Look a couple months out on your calendar where it isn’t as packed and pick two solid hours of every day. Schedule a meeting with yourself, then defend that chunk of time with your life. Proactively move meetings out of that space. Proactively decline meetings that overlap your block. Explain to those that matter what you’re doing and if they don’t respect that time, show them you’re serious by not showing up.
In using this technique, I and others have discovered a few key things:
- If our time is blocked and we’ve explained why, most people will respect the block or come talk to us before scheduling a meeting. This allows us to work together on a solution and usually gets us a preview of the agenda. Suddenly, we’re meeting insiders.
- We’re better able to say no or delegate. Since we’ll open a dialogue with the meeting scheduler, we can find out ahead of time if we belong in the meeting. We start to attend fewer meetings.
- We’re far more productive. I like to block two hours in the morning when I have the most energy. Getting my most important task done right away gives me momentum for the rest of the day!
- People think twice before inviting you to useless meetings. You have to be OK with being the only one not there, but you’ll more than make up for the lack of facetime with your newfound productivity. Plus, since you’re already interested in minimalism, you’re probably not the type to blindly follow the crowd anyway.
One more thing, and this is key, you must guard this time jealously. If you start making exceptions, the whole system will spiral out of control and you’ll be back to where you started.
Be strong, schedule the time, and reap the rewards of fewer meetings and more productivity!