Rebuilding Your Crowded Calendar

Last Updated Apr 23, 2008 5:36 PM EDT

Rebuilding Your Crowded CalendarMany of us info economy drones spend a lot of time -- dare we say too much time -- in meetings. At some moment the tipping point occurs, where our personal productivity loss is larger than the value we contribute or collect in meetings.

BNET is chockablock full of articles you can read about how to make meetings shorter (make everyone stand), or more productive (don't serve refreshments -- too distracting). But here's the real secret: Don't be afraid to say no to a meeting invitation where your presence adds little value.

Here's a starting point, thanks to the Steve Prokesch blog item Lessons From GE's Approach to Productivity on Harvard Business. One of the GE tips Prokesch passes along is to first identify which meetings are time wasters from a personal productivity standpoint.

Compare your calendar with the priorities. Label the purpose of every regular or recurring activity on your quarterly calendar and highlight those activities that are connected with your top five priorities. This simple exercise will reveal where you're squandering your time.
If you can squirm out of even one regular meeting of little value, you start reclaiming your productive time.

(Meeting image by clagnut, CC2.0)

  • Sean Silverthorne

    Sean Silverthorne is the editor of HBS Working Knowledge, which provides a first look at the research and ideas of Harvard Business School faculty. Working Knowledge, which won a Webby award in 2007, currently records 4 million unique visitors a year. He has been with HBS since 2001.

    Silverthorne has 28 years experience in print and online journalism. Before arriving at HBS, he was a senior editor at CNET and executive editor of ZDNET News. While at At Ziff-Davis, Silverthorne also worked on the daily technology TV show The Site, and was a senior editor at PC Week Inside, which chronicled the business of the technology industry. He has held several reporting and editing roles on a variety of newspapers, and was Investor Business Daily's first journalist based in Silicon Valley.