Are you worried that your meetings suck? Are you trying to cut back on the amount of time your team spends conversing when they could be producing?

Meetings have their place and can be a cornerstone of collaboration.

So why do we spend so much time in unproductive ones? Often, we’ll go through with a mindless meeting simply because we don’t realize it wasn’t necessary until we’re already halfway through it.

If you’re struggling to decide when a meeting makes good sense, this post will help. We’ve put together a quick quiz you can take to decide if a meeting is really a good idea before you put it on the calendar:

Yes, Let’s Meet Not Yet No
What’s your primary goal? To review progress and/or plan next steps To hash out details To see what everyone’s working on
How many hours have I already spent thinking about this situation? 2+ 0-1 0
Whose input is required to make take the next step? Other members of my team Leadership/upper management Just me
Is face-to-face conversation needed to move forward? Yes Maybe No
Will this issue directly impact overarching company objectives? Yes Maybe No
How much conversation has already happened on Slack? I’ve lost count. 1-2 threads None. I’d rather put it off until we talk

If the answer is “yes”:

Be selective. Invite only the people who absolutely need to be there to help make a decision or implement outcomes.

Prepare. Share an agenda with invitees ahead of time so they can prepare and make the best use of your time together. And set aside only the amount of time it will likely take to come to a resolution—no more and no less.

If the answer is “not yet”:

Sleep on it. Set aside some time to do your own research, brainstorming and strategic thinking first.

Gather intel. Use a tool like Slack or HipChat to quickly hash out details and keep things moving forward.

If the answer is “no”:

Get your team in sync. Use online standups to track progress on projects first. Then schedule meetings for the important issues where one-on-one conversations will build upon what everyone’s already working on.