“People who enjoy meetings should not be in charge of anything.” Thomas Sowell
We all spend too much time in meetings. When our brains decide “I need to get something done”, there seems to be a direct neural response to open our calendar and set a meeting.
I’ve worked remotely in my last two roles and I have to admit that the reduction of meaningless meetings is one of things I enjoy most about this setup. I remember in the past, while working for larger organisations with a more traditional structure, two distinct feelings when that little outlook popup that lets you know you’ve been invited to yet another meeting appeared. Those feelings were either frustration or joy.
Both of emotions were born out of the fact that I knew I wouldn’t be working during the meeting and that I was unlikely to gain anything from attending.
The frustration came when a meeting (or often a series of meetings) were set in the morning early in the week (my most productive hours). Normally I had things that I wanted, or needed, to get done at this time, so a meeting to hear about whether or not our colleagues on the other side of the world had achieved their cost savings targets was an unwanted distraction.
The joy that I took from meetings came early in my career. In one of my first roles I worked for a company that would frequently hold meetings that ran all Friday afternoon. This essentially meant that the work week finished at Friday lunch time. Sure, we had to sit through the meetings on Friday afternoon but mentally, we’d checked out. I’m certain that most people in the room were thinking about fishing, surfing, shopping or whatever it was they had planned for the weekend. I certainly was.
Think the following quote sums up both positions quite eloquently.
“Meetings are indispensable when you don’t want to do anything.” John Kenneth Galbraith
So here’s my challenge to you… Have less meetings in 2016… If you do, you’ll get more done in 2016.
If you have any doubts about whether you need a meeting this chart produced by the Harvard Business Review could be useful. (click to enlarge)