I work with both an internal team and external clients and collaborators. For this post, everyone will be referred to as a ‘participant.’
I realized just how full my calendar was getting a couple of years ago. I tried implementing productivity strategies such as time blocking and only taking meetings on specific days of the week. However, this was hard to stick to since I work with participants across several time zones. I needed a better way to keep the flow of communication moving forward while also protecting my own time so I could focus on getting work done.
While I used some forms of asynchronous work, I had never embraced it as a foundation for managing my time. Last year (2022), I implemented asynchronous meetings and communication into my workflow, and the results were terrific.
What is an asynchronous meeting?
An asynchronous meeting is where everyone can participate separately, at their own pace, and on their own time. It doesn’t even really even need to be classified as a meeting. Sometimes it’s just a quick update for your participants or a way to document something for your future self.
While I’ve dominated email (a classic form of asynchronous communication) for the last several years, I’ve begun to tailor my asynchronous strategy depending on the need. Email is great for quick updates & questions where you need very little response, but it’s a complex format to conduct a meeting in (especially when there are many recipients). Adding video, chat, and documentation to the mix can help fill the voids that email creates.
Why are asynchronous meetings better?
The more successful you are in your role, the more your time will be devoted to communication. Whether you are a freelancer, business owner, or working for someone else doesn’t matter. It would be best to optimize how you communicate and protect your time. Asynchronous meetings are the ideal way to maximize your time spent sharing. Here’s why.
In an increasingly remote world, you’ll likely be working with participants across time zones who have busy schedules to manage. Working asynchronously allows everyone to participate at their own pace and time.
Keeping your most productive hours free from meetings helps you increase focus. People are generally their most effective earlier in the day, and scheduling time later for asynchronous communication can help you stay focused and productive.
By having the ability to participate in a meeting on their own time, participants can avoid distractions and stay focused on the task at hand. This leads to improved productivity and better results.
Async meetings facilitate better collaboration by allowing team members to contribute and receive updates on their own time. This means they can provide more thoughtful and considered responses, leading to better results.
Async meetings can be easily documented, either through the use of shared documents or project management tools. This makes it easy to keep track of discussions, decisions, and action items, leading to improved record-keeping and accountability.
What’s my asynchronous process?
Have you ever left a meeting and thought, “this could have been an email”? It happens all of the time. In most cases, we don’t need to meet face-to-face. We need a better process for communicating information.
Most people ask for a meeting because that’s how they’ve always worked. Sometimes they don’t want to spend time writing an email. It’s your responsibility to propose and implement an asynchronous communication framework.
I let my participants know that I’m happy to schedule a meeting, but an email or video may be a better use of their project time. No one wants to waste time in a meeting when they realize the time is billable.
Asynchronous communication can be just as distracting if you don’t schedule it. At the end of every hour, I spend about 5 minutes taking care of quick emails and prioritizing emails I can take care of later. Then at the end of the day, I take about an hour to address anything that needs more attention.
If you’re working with a team, respectfully delegate emails and tasks to someone who has more time or expertise to respond.
Embrace your inbox
Email gets a lot of hate because it seems like it can take more time to get the point across than just hopping on a quick meeting. If you feel this way, try changing your email strategy. Try to be concise with your thoughts. Use bold, list, and quote formatting to identify critical points quickly and make your messages more straightforward.
Email is also searchable and a great way to organize and document communication.
Video is a superpower
Making a quick video to share with your participants has never been easier. A screen recording showing answering a question or a short selfie video with a project update can often be faster than writing an email without the commitment and distraction of a meeting.
Why did I make the switch to asynchronous meetings?
We all get the same 24 hours, and I prefer to utilize productivity strategies to optimize my work and spend more time doing the things I love. I think most of us can relate to that sentiment. Switching to asynchronous communication has helped me save over 10 hours per week. That’s a little over 20 extra days per year that I can work on tasks that move the needle, take time to recharge, or help my team reach new heights.
Tools that’ll help you make the switch to asynchronous meetings
- Loom is the best tool for screen or self-video recording. Participants can speed up/down playback, add comments, and react to the video. You also get basic analytics to see if your videos are being utilized.
- Front – Generally best for small to medium teams, Front is an excellent tool for supercharging email. You can assign emails to others, comment without forwarding, and organize your inbox by a participant. One of my favorite features is inbox delegation – when I take time off, I can assign my inbox to someone else (no more fear of returning to thousands of emails).
- Notion – Notion is excellent for storing information in a way that works for you. From project management, process documentation, and sales CRM to reminder app, Notion has you covered.
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