While meetings have generally been shorter during the pandemic, there has been a 12.9% increase in meetings scheduled and a 13.5% increase in attendees, according to a study conducted by Harvard Business School. Too many meetings can actually be counterproductive, ineffective, and contribute to burnout and fatigue. Instead of over scheduling, here are six ways to host more mindful meetings:

Only Schedule Necessary Meetings

Considering screen time is at an all-time high, assess if a meeting is necessary before scheduling. Perhaps a direct phone call may be more effective, information can be shared via email, or everyone can work on a shared file to gather feedback.

Create Structure with Clear Agendas

Clearly state the purpose of the meeting upfront, send out agenda items early, and assure there is a meeting leader to keep the discussion on track. To help with team communication, make sure someone is assigned to record decision items, meeting notes, and next steps.

Reduce Meeting Times Whenever Possible

Most hour-long meetings can be condensed to 45-minutes, and 30-minute check-in meetings can often be completed in 20 minutes time. Allowing just 10-15 extra minutes in between people’s schedules can help provide brief mental breaks and restoration throughout the day.

Prepare for Meetings

Instead of dedicating the opening 10 minutes to getting attendees up to speed, gather and send out any updates prior to the meeting. Make sure to have at least five minutes prior to the meeting to be properly set up and ready, with any audio/visual or screen sharing needs prepared, so that colleagues are not waiting, and the meeting can run efficiently.

Stay Focused

Virtual meetings are most productive when all attendees are fully present and focused. Close extra applications or unnecessary windows, avoid checking your phone, listen closely, and speak up when necessary.

Learn to Graciously Decline

Many people are invited to meetings out of courtesy or inclusion, but attendance is not always required.There are ways to respectfully decline, provide input or feedback without having to meet, or even speak up to suggest a meeting wrap-up early if all discussion items are completed. Being respectful of personal time and others’ time is part of a healthy work culture.

If feelings of burnout, stress, and fatigue are taking a toll on mental health and well-being, it may help to speak with a clinician for personalized support. Mental health sessions are available through your Assistance Program, and all services are complimentary, confidential, and open to family members.