“I’m stuck in meetings all day!”

Getting stuck in meetings is a common productivity complaint. My clients are often looking for strategies to reduce their time spent in internal meetings, in exchange for more focused deep work time.

If limiting time in meetings has been your goal too, lockdown has a silver lining.

The research

A study by the National Bureau of Economic Research in Massachusetts found that we actually spent 11.5% – nearly 19 minutes – less time in meetings per day during lockdown periods than in pre-Covid times.

Using data from over 3 million professionals around the world, researchers found that while both the number of meetings and attendees per meetings increased, each meeting was shorter on average. The net effect is less time in meetings overall.

Emotions and time perception

Perhaps the reason this statistic is surprising is how emotions play on our time perception. If you’re struggling with Zoom fatigue, sharing bandwidth with homeschoolers, or simply missing in-person connection, than those emotions can mess with your perception of time.

To you, lockdown meetings may feel endless.

Facts empower

The stories we tell ourselves can mask reality, hiding the opportunities to own our time. On the flipside, bringing awareness to the facts can help us focus on taking meaningful action.

If lockdown meetings are dragging for you, then challenge that sense. Adding and comparing meeting times from your calendar could confirm that you’re an exception to the research findings (totally possible). But if not, then it’s worth reflecting on what’s impacting your perception of time in meetings.

What form of connection are you missing most about being face-to-face with your team? How can you recreate a similar experience at a distance? That’s a topic for another day, but one well worth considering.

Your extra 19 minutes

If lockdown’s bought you 19 extra meeting-free minutes each day, where’s that time going? Down the email abyss? Added to a deep work block? Used for Zoom-bingo with your colleagues? Set out your day intentionally to increase your chances of directing that time productively – towards your work or personal priorities.

Alone, 19 extra minutes is enough to:

  • Edit that draft
  • Take a yoga class
  • Review your next pitch
  • Get a batch of cookies in the oven
  • Call your parents

Combined with other time confetti, it has even greater potential.

Why not get the facts for yourself? Have a go at tracking your time to find out exactly where it’s going. Armed with the facts, you can choose your time well spent.


TimeBeings Founder Jenna Polson

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