A recent client counted up the number of hours he was spending in meetings per week. The total? Almost 25, many of which are meetings-of-obligation, in which there is little or nothing for him to contribute.
How many of the rest of us are eating up so much of our precious time and commitment in this way?
We’re turning ourselves into meeting zombies: dulled and silent, resentful and over-busy, saying yes to hours of commitment to which we bring nothing, and from which we expect nothing.
So, some simple rules to apply the when the next meeting invitation comes in (or, worse, when someone else simply books a meeting in your diary):
- If you ask me to join a meeting where I’m expected to be an observer, I’ll say no.
- I’ll automatically decline any meeting invitations where you have not made clear, in ways that I can act upon, why you want me there and what you think I can bring.
- If it’s still not clear to me, I’ll expect that we’ll talk about it before I decide to come (and, no, we will not schedule a meeting to talk about the meeting).
- I’ll only come to a meeting when I know that I can contribute.
- When I’m there, I promise to do exactly that.
- And if I’m not there, you can tell me what was learned or decided later.
What freedom – and productivity – could be generated if we applied these rules to our own meeting attendance, and to everyone else who joins us?