Meeting Burnout is Real — Refresh Your Recurring Meetings With These 7 Ideas

a woman in a virtual meeting

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Sara London for Hive
Sara London for Hive
May 21, 2024 at 7:2PM UTC
Of the 25 million meetings held every single day around the United States, many are recurring meetings. And to many, recurring meetings are like a longtime marriage – they were once fresh and new, but now, the spark of excitement is gone. Any relationship takes work to keep the love alive, and recurring meetings are the same. If you’ve lost all passion for recurring meetings, don’t call a divorce lawyer just yet; all it takes is a little work, and the spark will be back in no time.

What qualifies as a recurring meeting?

We’ve all had recurring meetings – virtual or in-person gatherings that happen at the same time every week with the same group. Recurring meetings don’t have to contain identical attendees for each one; sometimes, they’re simply hosted by the same individual or group, and attendees can go if they feel so inclined.
  • Team meetings: These meetings are extremely common occurrences, as they’re usually with the direct coworkers that compose your team. However, you can also have cross-team meetings when working with other departments or groups on a project.
  • Skip-level meetings: These meetings are for teams or individuals and managers who are above the level of your direct boss, hence the name – you’re skipping a level to meet with someone senior on the hierarchy.
  • Daily scrum or “standup” meetings: Scrum is a project management framework that includes “sprints,” meaning fixed amounts of time in which goals and deadlines are made. These standups set yourself and your team up for the work you’ll be doing imminently, making sure everyone stays on track.
  • One-on-ones (1:1s): Whether check-ins with human resources, meetings with your manager, performance reviews, or chats with a colleague, these meetings occur between only two people.
  • All-hands meetings: All hands on deck! These recurring meetings that include everyone in the company or department can occur for quarterly reviews or guest speakers.
  • Project meetings: There are a few types of project meetings, including kickoff meetings to discuss a new project and status meetings to update everyone on how the project is going.

Why have a recurring meeting?

The merits of recurring meetings are plentiful. They provide consistency and clarity for employees who need structure and improve communication throughout teams and departments. They also help facilitate onboarding and perpetuate social connections. Without recurring meetings or standups, you may lose track of the status of projects or tasks.
However, some recurring meetings may have less utility than others. If you’ve been attending a recurring meeting for a while and it’s starting to lose its luster, you can feel like you’re wasting time hearing information you already know. To make sure the love stays alive in your recurring meetings, there are a few things you consistently have to do.

Revamp your recurring meetings

If your recurring meetings feel stale or dreary, there are a few ways you can re-examine and refresh these consistent connections.

Review why you have them.

Recurring meetings create accountability and hold people responsible for completing their work. But experts say that meetings that end up being an hour or longer with 20 or more attendees leave everyone feeling unsatisfied. If you attend recurring meetings that seem like Groundhog Day, with employees rehashing the same goals each time, you might need to review why you have these meetings in the first place. If they’re meant to emphasize forward movement, a conversation should be had about how repetitive the meeting is and how to change it.

Have an end date.

While some recurring meetings seem like they could go on forever, like standups or one-on-ones, it defeats the purpose of the meeting to have an indefinite series of gatherings with no direct objectives. By setting up an “end date” for your recurring meetings, you can push yourself to complete objectives you may otherwise have put off. This also allows you to choose a new time and place for your recurring meeting if there’s more to do, mentally priming you for a new phase of the project.

Make agendas.

Even for the shortest of meetings, you should have an agenda to discuss what relevant information you’ll be going over. Recurring meetings might seem rote after a while, but without agendas, they can become disorganized. If you have an agenda already and it isn’t doing the trick, ask someone to take meeting minutes you can review at the next meeting so you can see the gaps in your conversations.

Flexible attendee lists.

Some recurring meetings are more relevant to others depending on the day the meeting is being held. Suppose you just finished a huge portion of your project and handed it off to a coworker. There’s no rule saying you must attend a recurring meeting listening to that coworker talk to the development team about coding terms you don’t understand. These flexible attendee lists make recurring meetings feel less like chores and more utilitarian.

Make meetings quick.

Studies show that 25% of meetings are spent on “irrelevant issues,” so why not cut the fat for a lean meeting? Even if your recurring meeting is only five minutes long, if it gets the job done, that’s what matters. Standups are the best example of quick meetings, as they frequently clock in at only 15 minutes. If you tackle only the most significant material in a recurring meeting, your team will end up feeling more productive knowing that they accomplished more in less time.

Have text-based meetings.

Another way to avoid the hassle of a recurring meeting is to have meetings over text. Make a date and schedule a time to chat over Slack about updates, blockers, and pain points. Just because you’re talking over text doesn’t mean that everyone is mindlessly multitasking – with a little trust in your team, you can utilize available tech to think outside the recurring meeting box.

Make it asynchronous.

Who says a recurring meeting has to be on Zoom with cameras on and bored faces exposed? The easiest way to eliminate a recurring meeting is to create a place where you can asynchronously communicate about meeting topics in a way that makes the most sense for your team’s schedule. If everyone is too swamped with work to relax and enjoy a recurring meeting, don’t be afraid to tweak things for a week and make it easier on everyone involved.
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This article originally appeared in Hive — the world's first democratically built productivity platform. Learn more at Hive.com.

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