The Psychology Behind Meeting Overload – Harvard Business Review

Everyone hates meetings. Attending too many can be highly stressful and tiring, and both productivity and quality take a hit when employees tune out, become demotivated, and lose valuable heads-down work time. As such, it’s hardly a surprise that managers in one survey reported 83% of the meetings on their calendars were unproductive, or that US-based professionals rated meetings as the “number one office productivity killer.”

But despite what seems to be an overwhelming consensus, endless check-ins, debriefs, all-staffs, and Zoom calls continue to plague the corporate world. What will it take for us to break free from our collective addiction to meetings?

As a behavioral scientist focused on happiness and time management, and the co-founders of a startup building meeting software that’s grounded in decades of experience designing communication and collaboration tools, we understand the power of psychology to help us transform how we act (and interact). Below, we explore the common psychological pitfalls that lead us to hold and attend more meetings than we should, and offer research-backed strategies to help employees, managers, and entire organizations overcome them.

1. Meeting FOMO

One of the most common reasons we end up attending too many meetings is FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out. As meeting participants, we worry that our colleagues will judge us — or worse yet, forget about us — if we don’t accept every invitation. Deeply ingrained norms around what it means to be an “Source…