Stop having meetings for the wrong reasons

I’ve been in a lot of meetings. Some have been great, most have been boring, and too many have been pointless and bordering on disaster. I’ve noticed a few themes in the meetings that are boring and disastrous, so I thought I would share them for a moment.

Don’t set a meeting because you can’t find the time.

I’ve seen many leaders do this. They are so busy they can’t find time to work on something deeper. Instead of blocking out their time to work on it, they set a meeting with a group and use that as a working session. They want to do something but can’t because they are inundated with meetings and responsibilities. Every time they have a moment to work on something, another meeting gets booked. So, they set yet another meeting to block the time to get things done. The problem with this approach is the team doesn’t need to be there, so their time is wasted.

A better approach is to practice time blocking. Block out a time on the calendar to work deeply on a task that needs attention and guard that time as if it is a meeting with the Pope. That will give you enough time to think deeply, come up with ideas, make notes, and come back to your team with a thoughtful approach and next steps.

Don’t set a meeting to figure out what you want.

I confess this has been me too many times. I want to think through something, and rather than gathering information and sitting still to ponder it, I call a team meeting and think out loud. My team rolls their eyes, endures my misguided attempt at productivity, and then returns to real work once I’m satisfied.

A better approach is to gather the details I need, marinate on them, give them the depth of thought they deserve, and make notes. After that, a call with the team will help to solidify the direction and identify the next steps we will take as a team.

Don’t set a 30-minute meeting because you are unwilling to write a 10-minute email.

Ok, I’ve been this guy too, more often than I’d like to admit. I don’t like writing long, detailed emails. I find digging into the details frustrating, and taking the time to really communicate well just takes so much time! I would rather have a 30-minute meeting to knock something out, even though a detailed email would be more than enough. Remember that¬†the least invasive form of communication that offers clear, complete understanding is best.

A better approach is to force myself to write an email with the thoughtfulness and care I would use to write a blog post. Every email doesn’t have to live up to this standard, but the important ones do. The key is to slow down and ask, “does this need to be a meeting, or will a great email suffice?” If your answer to having a meeting isn’t “it’s essential,” then go with the email.

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