Employees sit in on an average of eight meetings each week, with leaders attending at least 12 meetings weekly. The higher up in the organization, the more meetings – CEOs average about 37 meetings per week, which means about 72% of their time is tied up.

If you feel stuck in the spin cycle of never-ending meetings, Scott Eblin, the founder of Eblin Group, has a few ideas on how you can break out of this pattern. We share his suggestions in this issue of PromoPro Daily.

Require clear objectives. The next time a meeting invite lands in your inbox, make sure you know the purpose of the meeting. Eblin says that if the organizer can’t finish this sentence, “We are holding this meeting so that …” you should decline the invitation.

Ask for an agenda in advance. You should also expect the organizer to have a focused agenda before the meeting. If there’s not an agenda and related materials, don’t accept the invite. Advance agendas and materials help you better prepare, Eblin says. They also force the organizer to think through their game plan for getting everyone together.

Limit the number of attendees. By keeping the table small, decision-makers and key contributors can more easily get things done. Eblin recommends keeping meetings to primary principals only – no observers, no people who “need to know” and no back benchers.

Know who has the authority. This can help you avoid endless loops of repetitive conversations, Eblin says, because you’re clearly establishing who has the decision-making authority.

End meetings with clarity. At the end of the meeting, attendees should know what the next steps are and who’s doing what. Eblin says ending meetings without outcome clarity is a sure way to keep yourself in the spin cycle. So, before the conference room clears out, make sure everyone is on the same page about what comes next.

Be ruthless about starting and ending on time. In fact, Eblin recommends ending meetings 10 minutes early. Whatever you can get done in 60 minutes, you can do in 50. The same is true for 30 minutes – you can get it done in 20.

Regularly reassess. Every week, make it a habit to review your upcoming calendar. If you see any meetings that you can cancel or skip, go ahead and do so. If you notice any recurring meetings that have lost their value, either repurpose or cancel them. Eblin says you may hurt some people’s feelings, but in the end, you’ll be getting yourself out of the executive meeting spin cycle.

When you’re hustling from one meeting to the next, it’s nearly impossible to spend time on strategic thinking or action. Try implementing some of the ideas above to take back control of your time and improve the quality of your work.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers
Source: Scott Eblin is the founder of the Eblin Group, a leadership development firm. He’s also a best-selling author and global speaker.