As a freelancer, you know that meetings can easily pass as the black sheep of all your tasks. Over and over again, you find yourself wondering why you have so many of them. Truth be told, meetings can be productive because they help establish project goals, communicate ideas, and identify responsibilities.
Still, most of them are inefficient, disorganized, and downright distracting. Every minute of your day counts, and the moment you start having meetings that drag to no end, you lose your motivation and feel like you have lost the rest of the day. The question is, how do you navigate this tricky landscape of meetings, decrease the load, and increase productivity?
How Freelancers Minimize Meetings and Increase Productivity
Here are 8 insightful ways to help you as a freelancer minimize client meeting and stay focused:
#1. Get Collaboration Software
Collaboration tools are some of the best inventions for freelancers. They connect people from different locations, increase productivity, and enable real-time information exchange. You can share information quickly and concisely, make decisions with agility, and you only get to join the discussions that matter to you. This will help you cut down unnecessary meetings
#2. Swap Call for Emails When Possible
While phone calls are a good alternative for video meetings, if you can swap calls for emails
whenever possible, even better. Phone calls can also be distracting and will take away from your productivity, while emails are shorter and manageable. Adapting meetings is vital if you want to maintain a high level of productivity, and sometimes an email is all you need to get the message across.
Make them understand that your schedule makes it hard for you to pick up the phone, but you would be more than glad to answer all their questions via email. You can also recommend that they get on your collaboration tool where you can chat about all the details about their project.
The upside to emails is that you will not forget what the client requested like you would if, at some point, you lost interest or got distracted through the call. Be positively polite when you refuse and give a legitimate reason.
Say something like, “I happen to be in the middle of a huge project right now that’s taking up all my time. Kindly feel free to send me your talking points through email and I’ll get back to you. If you still feel like a phone call is necessary after that, then I’ll schedule one as soon as possible.”
#3. Schedule No-Meeting Time Slots
As a freelancer, your schedule is possibly crammed back to back with different tasks, and when you combine that with meetings, you barely have any time for yourself. It’s important that you create white space in your calendar, which is time for yourself to process everything you’ve been taking in.
Every day, it’s advisable for you to have at least an hour or two for yourself. Take this time to organize the most important tasks of the day and get everything else in order. This time should not be allocated to any kind of meeting, so put an entry into your calendar that discourages others from inviting you to a meeting.
Alternatively, you can decide to only hold meetings in the afternoons after you are done with most of your important projects in the morning, during which time you’re most productive.
#4. Track Important Meetings
One of the best ways to eliminate time spent in unproductive and tiring meetings is by tracking which ones do not add any value to your time. For instance, you may have recurring meetings with your team. Every time they take place, take note of which ones are valuable and which ones are not.
When you realize a meeting was not in good use of your time, change its color on your calendar and make a point not to attend it the next time. Alternatively, you can recommend a cancellation or reduction of frequency for such meetings to ensure they are productive for everyone.
Take note of the meetings that do offer value and mark them in your calendar, so you don’t miss those. If you’re scheduling meetings with your clients, make sure you only invite necessary attendees and make the agenda clear. Afterward, send out follow-up emails to your clients as they stand to show professionalism and strengthen your relationship.
#5. Aim for a Designated Number of Meetings Per Day
To minimize the number of meetings you have, the best thing you can do is designate a number of meetings you can have per day. Depending on how busy your work is, schedule at least two to three meetings per day and block off the rest of the day for other productive tasks.
This will leave you with higher energy and fewer distractions. If possible, you can schedule only one day of your week for meetings. You see, when people realize they have to wait for a full week to have a meeting with you, you’ll realize that it’ll filter the unimportant meetings.
#6. Institute Time Caps For Your Meetings
When scheduling your must-have meetings, it’s imperative for you to have clear goals and understand how much time you should spend on each meeting. This will depend on how deep you intend to drive into a topic, but the meeting should not go beyond the designated time cap.
To maximize efficiency, having shorter meetings is better. Everyone will chip in the most important aspects of the meeting without wasting time. You can institute 30-minute meetings and only make them longer when you intend to have full-blown brainstorming sessions for essential projects.
#7. Make Your Availability Known
When other people have access to schedule your calendar, it’s important for you to make sure you alert them of your availability. Have a conversation with your team members and let them know that you may not accept invitations to certain meetings due to your work schedule.
When you set boundaries for your own personal recovery, it will make other team members realize that they need that time for themselves as well, which will cut back on the number of meetings you have.
#8. Know When and How to Decline
As a professional, you may feel inclined to accept meetings, especially with clients, but sometimes it’s okay to decline. You only need to ask yourself how valuable the meeting is likely to be and whether you stand to learn or gain something out of it.
Depending on the agenda of the meeting, you may realize you’re too premature for it, not the right person, or too senior for it. Check whether you can delegate the meeting to one of your team members if you have any of whether you can have the discussion on email instead.
There you have it! These techniques will minimize the number of meetings you have per day or per week and free up your time for more important tasks. Without distractions, you’ll redirect your energy to more productive priorities.