Tag Archives: meetings

Do You Do This At Meetings? I Hope Not.

It’s been such a delight these last four years since I focused on blogging and escaped from most of the business meetings. I openly confess. I don’t like meetings. Sure, there’s the rare exception, when a group of like-minded people discuss interesting ideas. I’ve been in meetings where people are excited, ideas bouncing about, lively discussions, brainstorming, and that’s great. hippo

But it’s so damn rare.

One of my dear mother’s favorite expressions was “if the shoe fits, put it on.” Just writing that makes me miss her. See if you fit either of these descriptions.

The runaway train

You don’t see it as easily when it’s you, but if you watch for it, you’ll see it all the time. One person is introducing a thought, gets a few words or a sentence into it, and pauses. Then another person — the runaway train person — seizes the pause and starts talking.

Lots of people pause when they talk. There are good reasons to pause. But when the runaway train comes roaring in and takes the conversation over, the group never gets the wisdom of the person who talks slowly.

It’s worse when you’re the boss. People don’t complain about the boss interrupting. Right. And, gulp, I was the boss for a lot of years. Oh-oh.

The drone

Then there is the person who goes on and on and on and on and on and … you get the idea. Interrupting is rude, so you sit there, and when at last, after what seems like forever, the whole monologue seems to be winding down, then you hear, to your horror and the horror of everyone else in the meeting:

In other words…

Which means the whole thing is going to start up again.

It’s worse when you’re the boss. People don’t complain about the boss going on and on, right? And, gulp, I was the boss for a lot of years. Oh-oh.

Conclusion: pots and kettles

I know, it’s pots and kettles. I’ve done both of them, and I hate both of them. Don’t think for a minute, because I’m writing about this, that I think I don’t. At best, I try not to. When I think about it.

But I do hope this reminder will help you do better at your meetings. Do you have some suggestions? The talking stick, something like that? Something you’ve done to make meetings better, to avoid these two problems? I’d love some suggestions. And, if it helps, print this out and post it on a bulletin board, or in the conference room. Make it a gentle reminder to all.

Maker or Manager: Do You Hate Meetings?

Focus: in personal productivity, focus is power. Or maybe I should call it concentration. Have you ever borne down on a task, locked out all distractions, and gotten more done in an hour or two than you thought you could get done in a day? I have the feeling I used to do that a lot;  but now, only rarely.

Part of the problem is the obvious computer-dominated workplace, with emails, instant messages, Twitter, my office phone, and my cell phone, all competing with the task at hand.

But it’s more than just technology. It’s like in an office, more to do, more distractions, more of everything. Especially, more meetings.

I was struck the other day by Paul Graham’s recent essay Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule. He says time is different for different types of jobs and people:

Most powerful people are on the manager’s schedule. It’s the schedule of command. But there’s another way of using time that’s common among people who make things, like programmers and writers. They generally prefer to use time in units of half a day at least. You can’t write or program well in units of an hour. That’s barely enough time to get started.

So the manager’s day divides into 5, 10, and 15-minute pieces. The programmer’s, designer’s, or writer’s day doesn’t.

I can relate to this. In 40 years of adulthood I’ve had three lives as a maker and one as a manager. For years my real work was developing a software product, which included some of the code plus content and even documentation. Meetings were big interruptions. Then for a lot of years I was building and running the company, doing nothing but meetings. During those years I was unable to get much writing or software content done at all.

People are different. I like the maker’s life better; but then I’m a hermit by nature, I can go for hours concentrating on a task without talking to anybody. I know people who would hate that, and live for the actions, the thrill of the chase, the decisions, the jockeying for position, the sense of getting things done (in a different way) and, with it all, the meetings.

What are you: Maker or manager?