Are Too Many Meetings Killing Employee Productivity?

For employees who rely on blocks of time to get their tasks done, dicing up their calendars with unnecessary meetings can result in a loss of work.

You wake up in the morning ready to buckle down and get to work—but one glance at the calendar says otherwise. With meeting after meeting filling your schedule, there’s little room to make a dent in your to-do list.

Sounds familiar, right?

With 25 million meetings taking place in the U.S. each day, those minutes or hours spent in unnecessary ones can translate to a loss in productivity. And for the “makers” on your team—those tasked with creating things—the impact can be much worse.

In his 2009 essay “Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule,” tech investor Paul Graham argues that makers prefer to use time in half-day units. “You can’t write or program well in units of an hour,” he says. “That’s barely enough time to get started.”

With meetings sprinkled throughout the day, makers are constantly forced to start, stop, and start each project again. And if it takes makers as long as 30 minutes to find their rhythm, by the time they’ve achieved their creative peak, it’s already time for the next meeting—leaving a pile of work in its wake. That’s why 67 percent of executives, including leaders like Jeff Bezos, Mark Cuban, and Elon Musk, see meetings as a production killer.

Before putting another meeting on the calendar, determine whether it’s necessary in the first place. If you can sum up the core of your meeting in an email, stealing away makers—or any employee—for an hourlong tête-à-tête is probably not worth the loss of work.

Leaders should also encourage team members to keep their personal calendars up to date. By designating crucial work time, the people scheduling meetings will have a better understanding of times that don’t disrupt productivity.

Of course, there are instances when makers will have to be flexible, bending or rearranging their schedules to accommodate an important meeting—“important” being the operative word.


Jeff Hsin

By Jeff Hsin


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