How to have less meetings & free up your calendar

How to have fewer meetings and open up your calendar

How to protect your time from meetings

While these meetings can be valuable for brainstorming and quick decision-making, they can also consume a significant portion of our day, leaving us with less time to focus on our most critical tasks. In fact, studies have shown that excessive meetings can be counterproductive, leading to decreased employee engagement and diminished overall productivity.

Meetings tend to break your schedule of working in focus mode, so I’ll address it separately.

  1. Meetings breaking your day up in smaller chunks
  2. Ideas, tasks & other ‘oh, wait!’s popping up in your head
  3. Noise & co-workers standing at your desk
Meetings are for brainstorming and quick decision making

Schedule less meetings yourself

Perhaps you’re part of the problem, so let’s start with your own behaviour. Again, this is simple but hard: Just have less meetings.

  • Is the meeting really necessary, or are you too lazy to send an email?
  • When creating a meeting, do you think about who to invite?
  • Do all your meetings have an agenda?

Instead of scheduling a meeting, send a video voicemail.

Send video voicemails instead of setting up a meeting

One of the reasons to set up a quick call is, because it’s faster to explain something with voice than drafting an email. There is a medium that is both quick & easy and also doesn’t require to disturb team members if they’re in focus mode.

A picture is worth a thousand words. Sharing images, links or a video about what you’re seeing makes it so much easier to help you when you’re stuck.

Record your voice, body language and shared screen

Record a video with Loom, Awesome Screenshot or Vidyard to get the message across quickly. The good thing is that the body language and other meta-communication is also recorded. Added benefit: the receiver can watch the video at 2x speed or skip to parts relevant to them. Nice!

Pro tip: Share the video and ask for a video response

Ask your coworker(s) for a video where they record their response and add their ideas. You still get the benefit of vibing off of each other’s ideas.

Stop mindlessly accepting meeting requests (No MAS)

If your calendar is full of meetings, you might be too trigger-happy to accept meetings. This video explains it well:

Remove recurring meetings that don't add value

Recurring meetings are usually accepted mindlessly. Once they stop serving their purpose, it’s time to say goodbye to recurring meetings. If your manager complains about the decision, make it clear that you are doing this to make more impact. 

Each meeting should have an agenda

A meeting has a written agenda shared over email.  If it’s easier to communicate synchronously, set up a short meeting. If it’s a complicated matter that requires a lot of back and forth, set up a meeting.

Add documents to the meeting as attachments if applicable, so everyone can reach them easily.

Move meetings to the afternoon as much as possible

Schedule focus time in your calendar or create a time-blocking schedule. In this article, I'll show you how to create a time-blocking calendar to be in control of your own time and plan things proactively.

Say "No" to update meetings

It’s annoying to be in an update meeting for an hour, while you could’ve read it in 10 minutes. Consider using project management tools like Asana or Clickup that have ways to update the project stakeholders within the tool.

Consider speedy meetings

Google Calender has a nice option to schedule shorter meeting by default. Meeting will last 40 minutes instead of 60 minutes. It's remarkable what a difference it makes. I have rarely needed more than 40 minutes.

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I hope you enjoy reading this free chapter.

Evaluate your calendar 4 weeks past & future

Evaluate your calendar for 4 weeks back & forward. For every meeting think about:

  • Relevance - can it be removed all together?
  • Meeting agenda - is there one? sorting of topics?
  • Attendees - should they be in the meeting? Should you?
  • Meeting notes - created and shared?
  • Meeting Length - can it be shorter?
  • Recurring meetings - how useful is it?
  • Creator - did you create it? Was it necessary?

Start with taking 1 small action. Can you remove 1 meeting to free up your time?

Reduce calendar conflicts

Share your calendar with colleagues

There are 2 ways to share your calendar: full details or just free/busy only.

Share it with your organisation (everyone in Google Workspace) or with specific people. I wouldn't recommend sharing it publicly, because anyone can see your calendar that way.

Sign up to colleagues calendar

It's possible to get access to other people's calendars. Go to  Add to Calendar in Calendar Settings. Search based on the email address to request access to a calendar.

Check availability prior to sending (if access is available)

It’s a good habit to check your colleagues’ availability before you send them an invitation. Take one minute and you’ll see they’re on holiday, have a day off or something else scheduled already. Save yourself and colleagues time by checking their availability.

If you don’t have this, get access to your colleagues calendars. It’s possible to share just the availability without the meeting details.

Schedule focus time in your calendar or create a time-blocking schedule. In this article, I'll show you how to create a time-blocking calendar to be in control of your own time and plan things proactively.

Set your working hours in Google Calendar

Set up working hours in Google Calendar.

Block time for lunch

By scheduling a specific time for lunch, you can avoid overlapping meetings and prevent the accumulation of stress that arises from working without a break. Furthermore, a consistent lunch routine promotes better time management, allowing you to organize and prioritize tasks more effectively. By respecting your own need for a lunch break, you encourage a healthy work-life balance, ultimately leading to increased productivity and a happier, more fulfilled you.

Block focus time to prevent meetings

Think about meeting time preferences of your colleagues

Everybody works differently. Don’t break someone else’s deep work if it’s not necessary. Create a shared document with each person’s preferences.

  • Preferred meeting-free days, e.g. no meetings on Mondays
  • Preferred meeting times, e.g. after lunch or end of day
  • Meeting Locations, e.g. office, walk & talk or when I’m commuting home
  • Video meeting or in-person meeting or audio only
  • Preferred buffer between meetings, or maximum number of meetings a day
  • Restricted times / deep work rules, e.g. no meetings before 11AM

Pro tip: Creates a shared team calendar with everyone’s holidays, out-of-office days or no meeting days.

Mark attendees as optional

This is helpful if you are scheduling a meeting with many people and you’re not sure who should attend. It’s an invitation to join if they have time, but otherwise the meeting will continue without them (and doesn't have to be rescheduled).

Use scheduling tools to plan meetings more easily

If you schedule a lot of meetings, it’s worth investing in scheduling tools like Calendly, AcuityScheduling or the tools within Pipedrive or Hubspot.


These tips will help you to have less meetings and to have less meeting conflicts. The result is more uninterrupted time in your calendar to get shit done. What are you going to use the time for that you've gotten back?

''How to have less meetings & free up your calendar'' is just the first chapter of our Master your Calendar guide. Want to learn more tips and tricks? Check out our entire Master your calendar Guide!

If you want to master your workweek to get more done and be less stressed, consider our productivity training.

About Ewoud

Ewoud Uphof

Ewoud Uphof is an experienced Growth Hacker, certified funnel optimiser and investor.

In the past decade he has co-founded multiple companies. As Head of Growth he has helped grow 50+ companies ranging from start-ups to multinationals. He has worked for Camptoo,, Sophia Mae, Koffievoordeel and many more.

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