Breaking the Meeting Cycle: Strategies for Product Managers to Take Back Control of Their Time

Are you fed up with meetings? Do your days feel like an endless round of video calls and standups that eat away at your “real” work? If so, you are far from alone. Product Managers are often weighed down by long meeting cycles that can make it difficult to stay focused and work on the Strategy and planning that moves the needle.

Why do we get stuck in the Meeting Cycle?

First, it’s important to understand why so many Product Managers find themselves caught in a meeting cycle. While the proliferation of tools like Zoom, Slack and Microsoft Teams has made it easier to connect virtually, it has also made meetings more accessible. As a result, it’s easier to double or triple the length of a typical meeting, with everyone jumping in and out at different times.

Another problem is that Product Managers are often called into meetings that don’t pertain directly to their work. For example, cross-functional planning meetings with marketers, engineers, and product designers can quickly veer off topic, with each team member bringing their own agenda. In addition, managers may find themselves on the sidelines, trying to collect input and offer direction to other team members who are struggling to stay on topic.

How to Reclaim your Time

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to regain control of your time and reduce the amount of time spent in meetings. Here are some strategies to consider:

1. Clearly Define the Purpose of the Meeting

Before scheduling a meeting, it’s important to identify the purpose and desired outcome. That way, everyone knows what to expect, and you can avoid long, round-the-table conversations.

2. Set Clear, Measurable Goals

Once you’ve identified the reason for the meeting, set clear, measurable goals. You should also define success so everyone understands the expected outcome. This will also help keep everyone focused and ensure the discussion stays on track.

3. Keep it Short

When it comes to meetings, less is more. Try to keep your meetings to under 30 minutes, and always make sure to start and end on time. This sets a precedent that the meeting isn’t some sort of free-for-all, and encourages everyone to stay focused on the task at hand.

4. Take Time to Recharge Between Meetings

When you’re juggling multiple meetings and trying to maintain focus, it’s important to take time to step away. Even a five-minute break can help you recharge and refocus. Consider using this time to go for a walk or grab a snack.

5. Prioritize Your Meetings

When you’re considering which meetings to attend, prioritize those that focus on strategy and planning. This can often be accomplished without taking precious time away from your day-to-day tasks.

6. Take Notes

It’s important to keep detailed notes durin each meeting. This will help you stay on top of the discussion and ensure that everyone is working toward the same goal. Plus, taking notes also helps you stay engaged and productive.

7. Ask for Feedback

From time to time, it’s important to ask for feedback from your teammates. This will ensure that everyone is on the same page and can help you pinpoint areas that need improvement.

8. Follow Up

At the end of the meeting, make sure to follow up with the team to ensure that everyone understands the decision that was made. This is especially important if you’re in a position of leadership, as it shows that you’re invested in the outcome of the meeting.


Meetings can be a necessary part of any job, but that doesn’t mean you have to waste your entire day in them. By following these strategies and staying focused on the purpose of the meeting, you can reclaim your time and get back to the work that matters most.

Change the way you approach meetings and you’ll reclaim your time and your sanity!
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