Halt! Stop the Meeting Invitations!

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Has anyone ever asked to schedule a meeting for a meeting of the meeting for that meeting…

Sorry, I had to do that. But think about it. How many meetings have you attended lately? How many meetings have you attended lately within a day? How many of these meetings were concluded with a goal? How many hours have gone by without you completing a single task for that day?

Are meetings really all that necessary?

I’ve been working for five years now and I rarely attend meetings unless it’s necessary for me to do so. For one, I wasn’t senior enough to join one and two, the companies I worked with hardly required me to attend. What few meetings I did attend were only because they needed someone to take minutes or it was for an update of a campaign launched, a product rebranded or website update. But I do know people who were dragged into multiple meetings per day and they took forever. Almost all day, some would say.

Are meetings productive or a waste of time?

I think it depends wholly on what you are scheduling a meeting for. What do you want to discuss in your meeting? Is it about the complaints your customer service department has been receiving lately? Are you planning on launching a company-wide change that may impact both your internal and external customers? Or you just want to talk about the behaviours of your staff but have no idea how to go about it and you think it’d be a good idea to rope in all the senior managers in every department to ask for their input?

Personally, I think meetings are a waste of time. But maybe, it depends on what your meeting is about. Sometimes, the word meeting has been so carelessly used that people end up misinterpreting the actual definition of it. Imagine someone saying they want to have a meeting for lunch ideas. I mean, you could always call for a quick discussion, and get it done and over with.

If you had a meeting, what could you possibly get done?

Scheduling a meeting could potentially save you on the time spent making decisions. A product or campaign launch would include your team or department staff, along with a few executives or senior managers involved in the launch. From there, you could easily get a few suggestions and/or options on what should be done and how to do the launch.

But this is if you have at most a meeting or two per week. That’s a rough calculation on my part. A new launch of anything could drain your hours and limit your time spent on other equally important tasks if you have multiple meetings a day, possibly reaching up to five to seven meetings a week! Do you really need that many meetings on one launch?

If you didn’t have a meeting, what could you possibly get done?

At the same time, though, having too many meetings can take up too much time. Precious time that could be spent completing tasks that matter more. As mentioned above, equally important tasks could be left unfinished if you had to attend meetings all day.

A few of my colleagues in my office now are attending at least three meetings a day. Each meeting takes up roughly one to two hours. By the time they’re done, it’ll be time for them to pack up and leave for the day. Some bring work to finish at home while others stay back late in office to finish up. That’s not exactly what we had in mind for a work-life balance.

An article titled Stop the Meeting Madness by Harvard Business Review details the pros and cons of meetings. A paragraph in the article clearly states the reason why meetings are a waste of time, and frankly speaking, I have to agree with them.

For one thing, time is zero-sum. Every minute spent in a wasteful meeting eats into time for solo work that’s equally essential for creativity and efficiency. For another, schedules riddled with meetings interrupt “deep work”—a term that the Georgetown computer science professor Cal Newport uses to describe the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task.

What about you? Do you think meetings are a waste of time?

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