OK, so after reading The 4-Hour Workweek (incredibly transformative book by the way) and various other career and productivity blogs, I thought I’d heard all the various ways people shave time in their day. Some of the tactics I’ve read about range from checking your email only once per day (not feasible for many of us), to making people stand up in your meetings (I’ve read about this in numerous places and apparently it makes meetings go MUCH quicker!…but pisses off a lot of people). However, I’ve been seeing some people in my company pull this on me and I finally caught on to what they were doing:
See, our company’s going through all kinds of new initiatives and everyone’s feeling overloaded. There are a ton of new projects and hence, a ton of meetings. Since many of us need to run virtual meetings due to geographical locations, we end up with a lot of webmeetings/telecons, as opposed to face to face meetings where you actually have to be in a conference room in person. Many of us are finding 6-8 hours of the day eaten up by meeting requests. When you add in some time for lunch, a bathroom break and doing actual WORK that requires dedicated quiet time, it’s a 10 hour day easily every day. So, what I’ve been getting from a lot of people in my meetings is the following:
“I can only make the first half hour of the meeting, is it OK if we cover my part early on?“
This seems reasonable, especially since my projects span several different functions and often times we can get the particular issues relevant to certain functions done at a particular time. However, after seeing this same message from the same couple people for different projects at different times of the day, I figured out what they were doing!
They’re effectively cutting their time spent in meetings in half!
On one hand, you might say, “Why not just stop going to meetings altogether?” or maybe you think my meetings are unnecessary or unproductive… I do cancel plenty of meetings when we can handle issues offline or I turn weekly meetings into monthly meetings when projects go into a lull like a capital project phase or awaiting regulatory approvals or something along those lines. However, we often need some cross-functional discussion and decision-making which is the intent of the recurring meetings.
While flat out skipping meetings is sure to hurt the team, the timeline and ultimately, their feedback, if people are getting their work done and moving things along during that attendance time, I guess it’s not killing me as a project manager. Now, nobody has flat out admitted that this is what they’re doing, but it seems to be a systematic, planned approach to meetings – and it’s working for them!
Since I run most of the meetings I’m in, it’s tough to do that in my own meetings. But admittedly, there are probably 3-4 meetings a week that someone else is running that arguably, I’m only invited for one portion due to an update, a decision or to escalate issues. So, perhaps I’ll start the ole’ “first 30 minutes” method and buy myself back a couple hours a week.
What Are Your Thougths?
Am I the Last Guy to Figure This Out?