The only meetings I like…

Meetings are a part of the knowledge worker life that I believe are a huge distraction from getting real (and deep) work done. Here’s a snapshot of a typical day of a friend of mine who works at a big pharmaceutical company. Crazy right?

Yes, its crazy

Besides the obvious craziness of the above, here’s why I think meetings are a waste of time and why we should avoid nearly all of them.

  • Meetings take planning, coordinating calendars, etc that distracts from work before the meeting even takes place.
  • Meetings need to be prepped for, especially by organizer just to facilitate.
  • At meeting time, everyone participating has to stop what they were otherwise doing to meet. Maybe they were into some deep work at that time, it doesn’t matter…it’s meeting time. Deep work time over.
  • During the meeting, not everyone participating in it may be on same page so “being brought up to speed” often happens which is a time waster for others.
  • If its an organized meeting, action items come out of it that someone needs to follow up on. Those action items are implied as “important” when in reality they may not be as important as what you were working on.
  • After the meeting the participants have to get re-engaged with what they’re doing which takes about 20 minutes for the mind to check back in.

My skin crawls just thinking of all that wasted productivity, especially when many people call group and team meetings just to “check in”. But there are times where a face to face (or phone conversations) are absolutely beneficial. The meetings I like are:

  1. The One-On-Ones— We’re all humans right? The one on ones offer an intimate check in point to get a feel how you or the other person are doing. To read body language, sense emotion, connect personally, etc.
  2. The Riff Sessions — getting in a room (or virtual room) and hammering out a decision or a project with a few people, ideally just 2 people. I love these after already discussing a point in a write up / email so the meeting is pointed and everyone is already on the same page when walking in.
  3. The Team Bonding — large company or team gatherings to bond with each other and align with the company’s values and goals. These are not meetings in the traditional sense but worth noting since many times they are called all-hands meeting or retreats.
  4. The Revenue Generating — customer or prospect interactions in any form are productive and typically best done in a meeting.

These are about the only meetings I try keep on my calendar (and for the team). Right now about 7 of 8 hours a day I am not in meetings (on average). Every other meeting I try to replace with a write up to either (1) get the information I need or (2) move the discussion along before the riff session.

It’s hard to implement such a reluctance for meetings but the focus on reducing unnecessary meetings has been a big part of my Deep Work intent in 2017. I’m all about (me and the team) getting more work done, more creatively, and in less time. Meetings are low hanging fruit to clear out!

If you’re in too many meetings and live in Miami, check out our job postings at BrightGauge.

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