The worst of the pandemic may (hopefully) be behind us, but the effects of two years of crazy disruption are still very much with us. Companies and teams continue to tussle over remote vs. in-person work, individuals are rethinking their priorities and looking for better options en masse, and burnout is at historical highs

Also, as of Memorial Day, summer is (unofficially) upon us and with it the urge to spend less time at work and more time outside in front of a barbecue or at the beach

All of which adds up to a single conclusion. Many entrepreneurs out there are in the middle of renegotiating their relationship to their work and having a deep think about how many hours they put in, where, and with what goals in mind. I've covered a bunch of suggestions and exercises to help you use the winding down of the pandemic as a springboard to reconsider your life, but I just ran across another good idea in the MIT Sloan Management Review: Now might just be the perfect time to declare "meeting bankruptcy." 

Like email or social media bankruptcy, but for meetings 

You may already have heard of "email bankruptcy." The idea is, when you are hopelessly overwhelmed by your out-of-control inbox, you simply delete everything and wait to see what issues come up and who writes you again. It's a simple if brutal way to clear some space for a fresh start and find out which of your 6,587 unread messages really matters. 

Computer science professor and author Cal Newport has also applied the bankruptcy concept to social media, calling it a 'digital detox.' On his blog he suggested quitting all your platforms for a month to see not just how you feel (science suggests the answer is likely to be better) but what social media uses and activities you actually miss. 

Writing in the MIT Sloan Management Review, a trio of executives from the Slack sponsored Future Forum, suggest an analogous idea excerpted from their new book, How the Future Works. Just as you might declare email or social media bankruptcy, why not try declaring meeting bankruptcy and see what happens? 

"At Slack, our executives led by example on this by declaring 'calendar bankruptcy.' They removed all recurring meetings and one-on-ones from their calendars so that they could consider each one and add back only what was truly necessary," Brian Elliott, Sheela Subramanian, and Helen Kupp write. 

The idea isn't to permanently eliminate meetings, though research suggests you would get a lot more done if you did ban meetings at least a couple of days a week. Instead, the goal of declaring meeting bankruptcy is to take meetings off autopilot and force you to actively justify each one you add to your calendar. 

However, the authors suggest that done properly an email bankruptcy will probably result in more open time for focused work. 

"We found that so many meetings could be eliminated or broken up into parts. For example, your monthly sales meeting might start with a status update. Why not send that out beforehand? Presentations can be shared as decks or asynchronous videos so people can review them in their own time. Tactics like these can lessen your meeting time considerably, and then time together can be more meaningfully spent on meaty discussions or team building," they report. 

Why now? 

This is an idea that could work just about any time, but it seems particularly well suited to our current moment. The pandemic has already thrust most of us into deep consideration of whether our careers are healthy, sustainable, and in line with our values. Declaring meeting bankruptcy feels like a natural extension of that process of reconsideration. 

Plus, it's summer time, traditionally a slower period for many industries. That may make declaring meeting bankruptcy now a little easier to manage logistically. And as a not so small bonus, you might just win yourself a few more hours to enjoy the sun with family and friends. So why not try cutting every meeting from your calendar and seeing which ones you actually miss?