Meetings are the Key to Life

Someone has a great idea and shares it with someone. They both like it and schedule a meeting to discuss it. The idea progresses, creating many more meetings: planning, defending, scheduling, implementing, resourcing, recap, troubleshooting, retreats, etc. At the end of the day, many people have been paid for many hours spent in meetings. And what didn’t happen because staff were dealing with this great idea? What other great idea didn’t see the light of day? Who quit because they were burned out, overloaded, etc?

Great ideas, new ideas, projects, plans, emergencies, strategies, etc. all require meetings, at least in higher education. So, whatever we do, you can rest assured there will be a meeting about it, and often many more than just one. If everything we do has some expression in a meeting, then perhaps one way to limit our workload is to limit the number of meetings. Period.

At my old job, I found myself meeting between 15 and 20 hours a week. Here, I’m trying to keep it to no more than 13 hours. This gives me time to try develop some plans, document what’s going on, experiment a bit, read a bit, and work on my professional development, all without getting completely burned out.

And I figure that if I’m meeting no more than 13-15 hours a week, my direct reports should be meeting less than that, say 10 hours a week. And their reports should be down to around 5. At tomorrow’s staff meeting, I’m going to ask people to get out their calendars and to start paring it down. This could be interesting. I think most people will be happy but there are a few that may be using meetings as a way of avoiding action. We shall see.

5 Responses to “Meetings are the Key to Life”

  1. kc said:

    Apr 15, 08 at 8:51 am

    I attend several meetings a month and I have reached but one clear cut conclusion about them: a few of them are essential…most of them are inconsequential. However, if I do not attend them I am perceived as a guy who “doesn’t play well with others”. Arg. Perhaps I will never attain the level of recognition my ego believes I deserve, but perhaps I can go home each evening knowing I did a good job? This is what I tell myself. Where’s the beer?

  2. admin said:

    Apr 15, 08 at 7:26 pm

    One trick is to try to make the meeting relevant. Ask some hard questions. Freak people out. Or just make it a lot more fun. Consider the benefit to “not playing well with others”–you basically get out of a lot of stuff. Until you get fired. 🙂 or don’t get the raise. Choose your pain. Choose your adventure. Isn’t it fun?

  3. kdghty said:

    Apr 15, 08 at 9:02 pm

    I. hate. meetings.

    You give good meeting, though – there always seemed to be a point to them. A meeting without an agenda and a defined purpose is a waste of time. I probably *am* one of those who doesn’t play well with others, but don’t schedule me for a meeting just to say hi. Feh.

  4. kdghty said:

    Apr 16, 08 at 9:57 am

    sometimes, apparently, meetings w/o agendas are scheduled to wish people happy birthday. which is very nice. and which leaves some people feeling like an utter s**t…

  5. admin said:

    Apr 16, 08 at 5:13 pm

    Yes, KD. Sometimes we all need to just relax a bit and lighten up… 🙂 and happy birthday, kiddo!!!!

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