The problem: you’re invited to a meeting that could have been an email or question on chat. We’ve all been there. You feel like your time is wasted. Very often meetings are scheduled unnecessarily. “Let’s schedule a meeting” has become the default response to a lot of business issues. Of course, a meeting can be the right answer in many cases, but it’s not always the right solution. Next time you want to schedule (or attend!) a meeting, take some time to figure out if you really need this meeting or if there are other, less time-consuming ways to handle the situation.

So, how do you decide if a meeting is necessary? Harvard Business Review knows a thing or two about meetings. They suggest that, in order to decide if a meeting is necessary, you should ask yourself the following questions:

is this meeting necessaryAs you go through this decision tree on how to decide if a meeting is necessary, here’s what you should consider at each step:

Have I thought through this situation?

Sometimes it’s tempting to schedule a meeting when you don’t have clarity about what you’re doing on a project. You might feel like scheduling a meeting but you don’t have a clear purpose for this meeting. This would only cause you to waste your own and your coworkers’ precious time. In this kind of situation, it’s often better to set aside some time for yourself to do some strategic thinking. You can evaluate different aspects of the project or situation yourself. Once you’ve done your own strategic thinking, then you can move onto the next step of considering whether you need to hold that meeting.

Do I need outside input to make progress?

If you find yourself in a situation where you have thought things through and you know what needs to be done, then start on your to-do list and do the work that needs to be done. You don’t have to schedule a meeting in this situation. However, if you need clarification, input, answers to questions and/or feedback from others before you can jump into action and make progress, continue on to the next step.

Does this necessitate a real-time conversation?

So, you have thought things through and you realize you need others to make progress. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to schedule a meeting. If you need answers, feedback or input, but they don’t require a two-way conversation, send an is this meeting necessaryemail. Especially when you’re looking for feedback on written documents. It’s much more efficient when everyone involved can look at these things on their own when they have time and then send you their feedback or input. However, if you feel like the situation does require a real-time conversation, then you can consider other communication channels.

Does this require a face-to-face meeting?

When you need a real-time conversation but don’t necessarily need to see the person you want to talk with, you can consider a few options. An online chat can help you get answers to quick questions, or for more in-depth conversations, you could schedule a video call or phone call. This will save you time going to and from the meeting place and waiting for each other. However, if you do need a face-to-face meeting, go schedule your meeting and make it count!

So, if you answer “no” to any of these questions, then a different course of action could be taken. We hope this will help you decide if you really need to schedule a meeting. It may save you and your colleagues a lot of valuable time! If you do end up scheduling a meeting, make sure to read this blog and plan your meeting efficiently.