We all know the meme about the meetings that should have been emails. It is funny because it is true. Which is why it is not actually funny at all.
Meetings are the bane of many companies. They cost enormous amounts of money, most people don't enjoy them and they take time away from meaningful impactful work. What's more, they have a tendency of dividing up one's days into illogical chunks of time that make it impossible to get anything done.
For me, when I know I need to finish something big, I work from home. Just so no one can drag my focus away. I can do that as I've managed to reduce the time spent in a conference room to bare minimum. Here is how.
For me the most time consuming meetings have always been weekly status meetings with my team and 1 on 1 meetings with my employees. And I'm not saying these meetings are useless. Staying up to date with everything that is going on in a team is vital for internal communication. However, you don't need to schedule hours every week for that. You can keep everyone up to date with online tools.
In our team we use weekly status reporting with Plans Progress Problems (PPP) methodology. With PPP everyone lists 5 most important tasks they work on each week (plans) and when these get done, they move them to progress. If someone gets stuck, the plan is moved to problems.
Everyone has access to everyone's else reports every day so we can always see what people are working on. These reports can be set up on Google Docs but it is much more convenient to use a reporting tool that has been designed for this. With this system implemented in an entire team, everyone always stays up to date with everyone's work.
When you really need meetings.
Meetings have many useful functions as well. HBR has listed the 6 functions they fill better than other forms of communications. So, if I necessarily need to hold them, I have strict rules: I use the team meeting checklist to make sure it has a clear goal and outcome.
I also make sure only people who really need to be there are invited and there is set agenda and expected outcomes. Also, I never let a meeting run over time.