Meetings meeting meetings…

A network contact of mine posted something recently about how utterly useless some meetings can be. It prompted me to provide this response which I thought I’d share more widely…

Time is precious – use it wisely

Our time is precious, we own it and it’s ours to give, but with Outlook it’s really easy for others to demand our time. I always aim to ask the following in advance of responding to a meeting request:

  • what is the purpose of the meeting – what is the organiser expecting to get out of it?
  • where is the agenda (if one hasn’t been sent with the invite)?
  • why specifically do I need to attend?
  • what specifically would the organiser like me to prepare or have thought about in advance?
  • does it really need to be that long?!

Without good answers to these questions I won’t easily give up my time. OK, so it might get me a reputation for being ever-so-slightly awkward, but as an interim / consultant using time wisely is essential for you and your clients. This approach helps me to decide which meetings to go to, which to delegate and which to forget about.

And if my awkwardness means the organiser does some ‘deep work’, preparing ahead of the meeting to complement the ‘shallow work’ of having organised it, then surely that will benefit everyone, right? I think so.

Focus on what you know matters

I make reference to ‘deep’ and ‘shallow’ work. Deep work is where good things happen, yet few of us carve out the time to truly work deeply because we are too busy with the business of ‘shallow’ work. That’s the stuff which makes us feel like we’re achieving and being productive, but in reality is simply keeping us occupied rather than moving things forward productively and at pace.

I take this from Cal Newport’s great book on the subject, ‘Deep Work; Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World’. I found this interesting and insightful, and would recommend it.

But back to the point. Organise meetings well; make them focused, purposeful and invite those who will make a significant contribution. Only attend those where you know your time will be well spent.

If we all did this imagine the time we’d all get back and the work that would get done!!

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