02/27/2015 02:56 pm ET Updated Apr 29, 2015

How to Diplomatically Get Out of Horrible Meetings

Meetings! Ah, that stark fact of life in the workplace.

Personally, I have come to a basic conclusion: They take up too much time, produce too few results and need to be made shorter and more focused, if not curbed altogether.

As Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson note in their book Remote: Office Not Required, meetings:

Require multiple people to drop whatever it is they're doing and instead do something else. If you're calling a meeting, you better be sure pulling seven people away from their work for an hour is worth seven hours of lost productivity.

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about what it would take to make meetings that worthwhile and productive -- or, alternatively, how to diplomatically cut many of them out of our calendars. Of course, doing something about this state of affairs is easier said than done, but here's how I've been trying to put it into practice.

Most of us leave any given meeting knowing immediately if it was successful and useful or not, but rarely do we step back and take a full audit of all our recent meetings. I've started doing this, though -- setting aside time at the end of the week or the end of the month to look at my calendar, identify all the meetings I attended and then grade them. A green mark means the meeting produced some valuable outcome for me and my team; a yellow mark means it was a reasonably good use of time; a red mark means I hope to never have that sort of meeting again.

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This post was originally featured on the Washington Post's website.