Business Meetings Suck
That’s right, you heard me: Meetings SUCK. Why? Because while you’re sitting there listening to what might be the third monologue from the organizer about the same work issue that you can’t seem to get done because you’re in so many meetings, your list of tasks is compounding.
Here’s what an average day for me used to look like:
07:00 AM: Go over lists of tasks to do for the day on the long commute to work
08:00 AM: Get to work and find 2 people waiting at your desk for a 30 minute unscheduled problem solving meeting
08:30 AM: Open Outlook and find 2 fire drills and 5 emails that each need 20 minutes of attention
10:00 AM: First “official” meeting of the day to go over that thing that I’ve been trying to get done
11:00 AM: Wrap up notes from meeting and send follow up emails
11:30 AM: Call with a sales rep who needs help closing a deal (conference call meeting)
12:15 PM: Lunch meeting across town with someone who has a great opportunity I know I won’t pass up (or be able to find time for)
01:30 PM: Get back to my desk and find a note from someone else who needs an impromptu meeting
02:00 PM: Management meeting (nothing got done from last week, why are we meeting again?)
03:00 PM: Finally, some time to finish those emails from 8:30 AM this morning – oh look a Webinar Invite (yeah!)
04:00 PM: Meeting with someone who wants to help, but lacks the experience to execute, burn another hour trying to help them get it
05:00 PM: Try to wrap up those emails, update Google Docs, check Pipeline Deals, check Toodledo, confirm tomorrow’s meetings and go home
06:00 PM: Add the NEW tasks to the list of tasks I didn’t get done today and convince myself that I’ll stay up late and do it (forgetting I have kids)
Is There an Alternative to Meetings?
Yes, don’t have them unless you are disciplining someone or being disciplined. Clarify, prioritize and delegate your tasks in something like Toodledo, Zoho CRM, Basecamp by 37Signals, or another online tool. Use email for non-urgent communication and insist on phone-only for urgent communications.
Have a backup. My wife is my backup. My Google Voice calls go to here, my administrative-related emails go to her, the big time-consuming important things stay with me (I think Covey calls that “Big Rocks”). Can’t afford a backup? That sucks. Tough luck pal, looks like you made your bed, just don’t try to sleep in it if there are people who shouldn’t know where to find it but do.
The other solution? Sheep herding. Grab a stick, pack a lunch and get some fresh air and sun. My pal in Croatia and I talk about how lucky those darn sheep herders must be to not ever have to kill a day with meetings.