How One HubSpotter Created a Framework to Reduce Meeting Fatigue

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How One HubSpotter Created a Framework to Reduce Meeting Fatigue


This put up is a chunk of Made @ HubSpot, an interior idea leadership sequence all the device thru which we extract lessons from experiments conducted by our very admire HubSpotters.

A pair of months ago, I came to a startling realization: My job is meetings.

Perchance it’s possible you’ll presumably maybe well presumably also uncover. From morning to nighttime time, I expend my time leaping from Zoom call to Zoom call. I flee to take a snack within the 2 minutes I’m afforded in-between calls, and I’m mentally exhausted by the quit of the day. Or no longer it’s a war to decompress earlier than spending time with company and family.

And, equally absorbing, the amount of meetings I admire takes away from my skill to salvage my work finished.

I’m Chris Saly — an Engineering Lead at HubSpot.

As an engineer, my day job modified into once code. Obvious, we wished meetings to focus on about things and no longer sleep to this point as a team, however the foremost mechanism and price of my job modified into once the usual and reliability of the code I produced.

Now, the foremost price of my job is talking to others. Whether it’s as a mentor, being occupied with tactical choices, or serving to situation a strategic imaginative and prescient, these forms of dreams are communicated thru meetings.

On the opposite hand, there are some very steady penalties to my role as an EL. Among other things, my meeting-heavy lifestyles modified into once taking its toll on my psychological health, relationships, and place of work productiveness.

I knew something had to replace. Here, I would possibly video display you the device I integrated a framework into my calendar planning to lower meetings, and derive lend a hand control of my time.

Download Now: Free Meeting Agenda Template

My Job is Meetings

As an engineering lead, I situation up the 12 engineers in my neighborhood and provide a strategic imaginative and prescient for the pillar in collaboration with my venture administration, replace gadget analysts, and salvage company.

We produce interior instruments and programs that reinforce the HubSpot Sales, Success, Toughen, Advertising and marketing, and Operations teams to provide their jobs day-to-day.

Which means, in extra to the moderate obligations of an EL at HubSpot, there would possibly perchance be additionally a wholesome dose of stakeholder administration thrown in, to boot.

The personality of my role manner that meetings veil a large vary of subject issues. I would gallop from one meeting talking about the three twelve months imaginative and prescient for HubSpot’s Sales team, to a programs salvage discussion on something we’re constructing just appropriate now, to a mentoring conversation with a Tech Lead after which into a critsit retrospective.

What I’ve realized is that my job is now meetings.

What triggered this?

I spotted a lots of days over the final lots of months the save despite ending work at five or six, closing the laptop laptop and fully disconnecting from work, I modified into once silent amped up and my brain modified into once in ‘work mode’ at 9 PM.

I modified into once struggling to decompress. And brooding about almost half of mavens file a excessive stage of exhaustion after a monumental selection of day to day video calls, I’m prepared to guess most of you know this frustration.

My calendar on Oct 28th final twelve months is a heavenly instance of what a typical day would explore adore earlier than Christmas:

  • Open my day with a 1-1 with a Tech Result in focus on about mentorship and team health.
  • Adopted by a conversation for the duration of lots of product teams on the technical feasibility of a particular suggestion for a 2021 compass item.
  • Then a kickoff meeting for our pillar that is in part selling the imaginative and prescient and in part a social chat.
  • After a swiftly destroy we’re onto an in-depth technical overview of a gadget we now admire to delivery the expend of as engineers.
  • Capping off the day with a gathering with ELs+Director in Flywheel that, looking out on the day, would possibly perchance presumably maybe also veil folks administration, technical visioning, or our teams technique.

So … What’s The Bother?

While I modified into once feeling overwhelmed, I did not undoubtedly realize why, so I took a pair of steps to figure out the save things had been going terrifying.

First, I made a desk of all of my meetings, categorized by their cause, and calculated the amount of time I spent on them on a weekly basis (be conscious beneath for added details on this)

I additionally did some soul-making an are trying to be conscious how I modified into once feeling about my meetings. Whether there had been days I dreaded, or days I undoubtedly loved, and tried to salvage entangled with why I felt that device.

This gave me a pair of realizations. First, I spotted the ratio of time spent on supporting teams that file to me, working with company, and staying abreast of things going on within the corporate felt just appropriate to me.

On the opposite hand, the sheer volume of meetings had crept up on me. Over the direction of the outdated six months, my neighborhood had doubled in size and meetings had handed a threshold with out me noticing.

I additionally realized my meeting load on a weekly basis lots of looking out on when all my routine meetings came about to tumble.

And, probably most absorbing of all, I spotted there had been no subject issues or focal level to my meeting days. One meeting would be deep within the weeds, and the next would be a 30,000 foot glimpse. Altering contexts for the duration of the day adore that is onerous, and takes unnecessary psychological energy.

Plus, as I’m sure most can uncover, the pandemic made my lifestyles out of doorways of labor Zoom-heavy, to boot, with distant birthdays and overjoyed hours. All of which is to assert: I modified into once drained of the total video display time.

After I assumed of how this all affected me, I came up with the following list:

  • I infrequently quit the day no longer having the flexibility to turn of my brain and expend time with family & company.
  • Or no longer it’s a mentally taxing thing to replace contexts all day very long time and it has an outsized get on how mighty energy I admire for myself at the quit of the day.
  • I on the entire undoubtedly feel adore I’m working in save making an are trying to derive notes, digest recordsdata, take a snack, and expend the john as I gallop from one meeting to the next.
  • I war to search out time for things adore AMAs, All Fingers, Science Handsome, Tech Talk & Hub Talks. After Christmas I had a 12 week tech focus on backlog because I lawful did not admire the time or capacity to gallop attempting them.

If this list resonates with you, don’t despair and retain reading. Fortunately, I came up with a resolution to my meetings-heavy job.

A Recent Framework for Meetings

If my job is meetings, I wished a framework for those meetings to reside in — which integrated boundaries and principles to retain my sanity, as the mature advert-hoc means clearly wasn’t lowering it to any extent extra.

First, listed right here are the boundaries I situation with regard to my psychological health:

  • No extra than 90 minutes of meetings in one gallop:  There’s only see you later I will listen and gallop with out a bathroom destroy.
  • Scheduled 15/30 minute breaks earlier than and after any 60 minute block:  I book these in as ‘meeting gap’ meetings on my calendar to quit folks reserving over them.
  • No extra than 2.5 hours of meetings within the sessions earlier than or after lunch:  If I gallop beyond this I can not decompress within the evenings.
  • Laborious quit of meetings at 5 PM:  I need at the least 15 mins to wrap up my solutions for the day, send a couple of slacks and derive notes for tomorrow. Making an are trying to send a message at 6pm when hangry isn’t any longer an even notion.
  • Friday has no meetings, and positively no meetings after 3 PM on Friday:  I expend Friday as a catchup and focal level day so keeping it freed from meetings is essential to that. I additionally need time to wind down from the week and if I’m leaving stuff undone it undoubtedly affects my weekend

Obviously, these don’t appear to be situation in stone, and I’m prepared to make exceptions to these if there would possibly perchance be a superior need e.g. If there’s a critsit or a monumental replace impact.

But for long-established day-to-day meetings, I’ve stumbled on there are very few meetings that can not wait a pair of days. I’ve additionally realized meetings no longer continually must silent be extra than 90 minutes.

If I need exceptions to these boundaries extra than once or twice a month, my spidey sense begins tingling.

When I situation those psychological health boundaries, I took it a step extra by growing a desk to situation up my meetings and are trying patterns.

First, I save all my meetings into a spreadsheet, tagged every with some relevant tags, and feeble that as my basis for each analyzing and changing my meeting time desk. It allowed me to play with meeting cadences, and be conscious the device it would possibly perchance perchance presumably maybe well have an effect on the final image.

It additionally gave me a some recordsdata I could perchance presumably maybe also analyze to answer to the following questions:

  • How mighty time modified into after I spending with teams in my pillar versus my company and the pillar mutter versus the bigger Income Product Neighborhood?
  • How mighty time on broader company alignment adore tech focus on, AMA, science heavenly, company talks, and so on?
  • Was I over-indexing on supporting any particular neighborhood and did the final steadiness undoubtedly feel just appropriate?
  • Had been there any low precedence meetings that had been too frequent?
  • Was the meeting volume per week roughly the identical? And is that what I needed?

Let’s dive into some of the most aspects of this desk now.

1. Color Coding

I have been color coding my calendar for over a twelve months now and it’s been undoubtedly necessary, however it’s been advert hoc and I on the entire neglect or replace what the colours mean with out alive to by it. This time I wrote it down to retain myself appropriate, and so I’m succesful of refer lend a hand to it if I admire to.

Color coding my calendar makes it easy to be conscious at a be conscious what my day and week appears to be adore. If there are too many yellows or reds (meaning medium or excessive precedence) on my calendar I know I admire to reschedule or skip some meetings. If I admire a day that appears to be adore a rainbow, that potentially manner I will be changing contexts the total time and can strive to transfer things. If I admire a solid block of color with no grey in it, I have not any ‘me time’ and will doubtless be fried by the quit of the day. Any of this stuff are ample to salvage my spidey senses tingly.

Here is learn the technique to replace colors in Google calendar.

2. Assembly Frequency

My meetings had a jumble of recurrences that had grown organically and will doubtless be on any time desk, which resulted in a somewhat messy and inconsistent calendar. To support make things clearer and extra long-established I’ve categorized them into buckets with default recurrences:

  • Weekly: Excessive price, excessive impact. Issues that require long-established and excessive volume conversation e.g. Command reports/mentorship, an full of life venture that is shut to going reside.
  • Twice a Month: Issues that require ongoing shut alignment e.g. identical stage company and excessive stakes initiatives.
  • Month-to-month: Crucial subject issues that don’t replace all that quick e.g. skip-stage 1-1s, venture updates.
  • Every two months: True keeping alive to e.g social and connection keeping, engaging initiatives however would not need full of life involvement.
  • Quarterly: Alignment and planning e.g. product neighborhood meetings, OKRs, and so on.

The utilization of this rubric has a couple of benefits:

  • It made me mediate about the cause of meetings and technique to a decision what the appropriate cadence is
  • It gave me a protracted-established benchmark to verify meetings so I admire comparably necessary meetings on identical cadences
  • With most meetings now going on once or twice a month, I’m succesful of on the entire pair identical meetings on the identical day meaning less context switching.

3. ‘Week in Month’ Meetings

Earlier than I started this my routine meetings had been in most cases on an ‘every X week’ basis — as in all of my meetings recurred every 2, 3, 4 weeks.

The replace I’ve made right here is to transfer all meetings to a ‘week in month’ basis. This kind that as a substitute of meeting with anyone every four weeks, I would possibly meet with them every 3rd Thursday, or as a substitute of every two weeks, it’s every 2nd and 4th Tuesday.

This implies has lots of advantages:

  • It combines with ‘meeting frequency’ above to enable me to theme days and weeks so I’m no longer changing contexts the total time
  • It affords a definite cadence to the month e.g. it’s the center of the month so I know I’m talking to team X this week
  • There are 12 months within the twelve months however 13 blocks of 4 weeks, so it inherently just a small of decreases the selection of meetings
  • It frees up the 29th, 30th & 31st as mostly meeting-free days
  • Aspects of our replace and lives on the entire flee on a month-to-month cadence and tying meetings to that identical cadence in most cases is a terribly necessary instrument. (Examples of this would presumably maybe also embody Irish public Holidays, which customarily tumble on the foremost Friday of the month and folks on the entire derive the Thursday or Monday to make it a protracted weekend; efficiency reports and ACR on the entire happen initially of the month; and sales admire quit-of-month targets, which results in extra stress on the programs within the outdated couple of days of the month.)

All of this color coordination and categorization is well and just appropriate — however I’m betting you are pondering, Well … did it work?

Let’s dive into outcomes now.

So … Is It Working?

I have been making these changes since the origin of the twelve months and I’ve had colossal outcomes to this level.

My psychological health has improved and I admire extra time and energy for myself day to day after work. I’ve tremendously decreased the amount of days that I war to decompress when the work day is done.

I’ve caught up on the total tech talks and I’m following up on action objects from meetings extra reliably and swiftly. I additionally admire extra time to salvage non-meeting work finished, and in most cases undoubtedly feel mighty extra productive.

This modified into once a somewhat typical device for my calendar to explore earlier than:

And that is a typical week now:

By hook or by crook, what worked for me would possibly perchance presumably maybe also no longer give you the results you want.

But I lend a hand anyone who feels overwhelmed by their time desk to derive the time to proactively assess and diagnose for redundancies, wasted time, or time which would possibly perchance maybe be better spent re-charging. Simply taking the time to analysis my calendar enabled me to salvage a extra atmosphere fine time desk that worked for me.

So maybe that is undoubtedly the lesson right here: Resolve out how your job can provide you the results you want, no longer the unsuitable device around. Every person is ordinary with explicit preferences, and for people who don’t fight to your calendar to explore the device you’d like it to … who will?  

meeting agenda template

At the origin published Sep 13, 2021 7: 00: 00 AM, up to this point September 13 2021

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