Work-life balance is a vital part of any company’s long-term viability and health. Overworked staff are unproductive, and the time lost due to stress and fatigue can quickly inflict a heavy toll, especially when it comes to meetings and constant deadline pressures. And the struggle is real: a study from The Workforce Institute at UKG found that 43 percent of workers had significant concerns about burnout, and nearly 60 percent of managers took measures to address it in 2020.
As a manager, it’s your job to help your team maintain a healthy work-life balance. How are you helping employees make space for their personal priorities while still remaining happy and productive on the job? Are you leading by example?
Meetings are an ideal place to start. The better you can integrate meetings with work —making them work for you instead of creating more work for you—and conduct them with an eye on efficiency and results, the more readily you’ll be able to realize your own work-life balance zen zone.
Some commonsense guidelines (and the right tools) can help.
To meet? Or not to meet? That is the question.
Scheduling a meeting is often an easy way to kick the can down the road. Whenever an issue comes up or a matter needs resolving, scheduling a meeting lets you defer it until the meeting itself. That can be a damaging pattern. It can disrupt your team’s workflow and force you to reshuffle your priorities.
Instead, when an issue comes up, carefully consider if a meeting is the right forum for resolving it. Try asking yourself some specific questions, such as:
- Is the issue time-sensitive and/or could it disrupt the progress of other projects?
- Is outside input necessary to resolve it? If so, which team members are required for, or affected by, such input?
- Is a real-time discussion required, or can the pertinent information be sent in an email or similar medium?
- What are the goals of the meeting and how will time spent on it affect these?
With the answers as your guide, you’ll not only be able to cut down on the number of unnecessary meetings but also make the ones you do have more productive and less time-consuming. And meeting efficiency starts with being prepared and organized, zeroing in on the relevant points and leaving the nonessential items behind.
Power tip: Gathering everything in Evernote makes it easy to organize ideas and goals and present them to the entire team. Ideas, questions, solutions, tasks, even meeting agenda items…inspiration can strike at any time. Use Evernote to capture and organize information on-the-go, whether you’re sweating it out at the gym, driving the kids to school, or stuck waiting at the doctor’s office.
Power tip: Opting to avoid the meeting altogether but still need to resolve an issue? Assign tasks to team members directly, letting them add notes, questions, and solutions in the app.
Balance meetings with other tasks
Managers need to stay up-to-date on everything and have the pulse of their team’s status, questions, and responsibilities. If that data is organized for easy access, you can prioritize tasks more readily and determine when and where meetings need to take place. That’s important since you must determine if a meeting is necessary when weighed against supplementary work tasks and other demands on your time.
When scheduling meetings, remember to:
- Space out meetings as often as you can rather than giving in to the urge to schedule multiple meetings back-to-back to get them out of the way. You need time to digest the information and make smart decisions before leaping into the next meeting.
- Spell out the goals and set a clear agenda beforehand, then stick to it during the meeting itself. That keeps things on point without wasting time.
- Do not automatically reschedule if a member cannot make the huddle because of competing priorities (unless their presence is all-important). Make sure to discuss the agenda with attendees beforehand and consider their input. Change the agenda if necessary and only alter the schedule if need be.
Power tip: Use Home for full visibility into your workday. Customize your Home dashboard, complete with task lists that prioritize your to-dos. Reflect priority through flags, due dates, and emojis, or set up a tagging convention for the relevant notes. With a bird’s eye view of your schedule, you can decide if a meeting is doable at a quick glance and, if so, find a suitable time for it.
Delegate and ask for help
Dynamic managers know how to delegate when they need to, handing over part or all of the meeting agenda to others. By rethinking the way that works, you can ensure that every task has a handler and responsibility is shared. The sweet spot is to strike a healthy balance between maintaining responsibility while allowing others to have a sense of ownership.
Delegation starts by knowing what to delegate and to whom. Which members of your team have the right skills? Who isn’t overloaded? Which tasks on your plate need to be offloaded? By delegating the right task to the right team member, you’re sending a clear sign that you trust their abilities and discretion, empowering them and giving them a sense of purpose.
For managers, this newfound freedom lightens the load considerably and reduces the risk of burnout. In the ever-changing, turbocharged business world, there remains one constant: There are only 24 hours in a day and even team leaders need to rest for some of them.
Power tip: When weighing up which members are best suited for certain meeting responsibilities, it can be difficult to recall all the details of potential candidates. Record and update candidate profiles in the Meeting Debrief Templates, creating powerful knowledge bases that help you connect, encourage trust, and build rapport. It’ll pay handsome dividends when you have to make those all-important delegation decisions.
Meetings vs. tasks vs. life
“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.”— William Penn
There are never enough hours in the day, but you can make better use of your time by eliminating unnecessary meetings, making the meetings you do have count, and delegating meeting agenda items to the appropriate team members. And when you lead by example, your team will take note, finding their own way to a sustainable workload and work-life balance.