I Decline Meetings by Default. This is How it Boosted My Productivity.

Five simple calendar changes and meeting habits will boost your productivity.

Time is the most precious thing to have. No matter the amount of other resources, there will be no creation, production, or service if there’s no time left. Even the most trained and skilled basketball player needs time to take the winning shot. Zeros on the shot clock, and there is no point, literally.

Yet, in business, we continue to waste time in meetings (e.g., HBR, 2022 — “Dear Manager, you’re holding too many meetings”). Sometimes, it’s a hidden waste of time: three persons from the same team or management chain, incorrect people or groups invited to discuss a topic, meetings that cover already resolved issues, or a readout on a project to large groups. Interestingly enough, more often, the waste is visible: lack of clear meeting outcome, no follow-up actions, no decision making, missing meeting minutes, colleagues complaining about “having back-to-back meetings” or “being fully booked today,” and ultimately reduced productivity. Why was I invited to this meeting?

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