Work Smarter//

4 Ways to Get Your Work Done When You’re Drowning In Meetings

Here’s what to do to get time on your side.

Courtesy of Nik MacMillan/Unsplash 

By Jane Burnett 

Being slammed with meetings — often back-to-back ones — can be exhausting, and can send your productivity into a nosedive as you struggle to figure out how you’re still going to get that mountain of work done. Here’s what to do to get time on your side.

Know when to decline that Google Calendar meeting invite

Emphasizing that you’re busy can be an effective method.

Although some meetings are crucial to attend, there are times when they aren’t the most important thing you have on your plate — and, in fact, they could prevent you from getting the work done that your boss is expecting.

When it comes to picking and choosing priorities, the best advice is to be transparent, and honest, since little white lies won’t last long in an office full of people on the same team.

If you’re genuinely swamped, and get a last-minute meeting invite, try letting your coworker know the truth.

“Be honest and say, ‘Unfortunately, I’m devoting every moment I have to [some task] due in two days. Please keep me posted if there’s any way I can be of help later this week, ’Freelance writer and editor Sarah McCord, who covers careers, writes in The Muse.

Set aside 2-4 hours where no one can pull you away from your work

Marta Turek, Associate Director of Digital Marketing Programs at digital marketing agency ROI DNA, says the solution is to schedule fewer meetings that matter more — and know your own patterns well enough to know what time of day you do your best work, so you don’t schedule meetings in the middle of that time.

“Create blocks of time in your calendar dedicated to your work, and indicate in the title that this time is blocked off for specific, focused tasks. Indicate which project you’ll be working on and request that no meetings are booked in that time,” she writes in Moz.

Turek, whose lecture,”Too Busy to Do Good Work” at MozCon 2015 laid out “21 daily habits to master for increased productivity,” encourages people to “block out 2–4 hours every day in your calendar for uninterrupted work.”

Early risers might be better off doing their best, uninterrupted, work in the mornings, while night owls might do best to power through tasks towards the end of the day.

Schedule all your meetings on the same day

This may or may not work for you, depending on your level of seniority.

“Stop taking meetings throughout the week: Monday at 2 p.m., Wednesday at 11 a.m., Friday at 4 p.m., etc. Instead, set aside a single day for meetings,” Jason Shah, founder and CEO of collaboration platform Do, writes in Forbes.

“Most leaders find mid-week is desirable, as it breaks up their work week. Monday is a good time to plan and prepare, and Friday is a good time to review and reflect,” Shah continues. ”Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Thursdays are ideal days to engage in meetings, depending on what works best for you. When you only take meetings once per week, you’ll have longer stretches of uninterrupted time to focus on higher-value tasks.”

Hold meetings standing up — they might become shorter

Carson Tate, founder of management consulting firm Working Simply, writes about how a senior executive client at a big company had days that were so packed, her female employees began “following her into the restroom, file folders in hand, to get answers to their many questions” in The New York Times.

Can you imagine? Not only was this executive’s personal space encroached upon, it was also a major signal that she had so much going on that her direct reports had trouble getting to her.

Tate later includes tips for managing meetings— including this trick.

“For in-person meetings, consider requiring everyone to stand up. This is very effective, because leg fatigue soon sets in and everyone has an incentive to keep the meeting short,” Tate writes.

Originally published at

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

A tired woman in front of a laptop, isolated on white background

How To Beat Zoom Fatigue

by Lori Milner at Beyond the Dress
Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash

Are meetings taking over your life? Try these 5 strategies.

by Alexis Haselberger

The Guilt-Free Guide to Getting Back on Track After a Completely Unproductive Day

by The Muse

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.


We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.