Anyone trying to manage by task, not time, should rethink how to do meetings. The fundamental concept of a meeting is sound. You bring people together—in-person or virtually—at an appointed time to reach a decision. If you’re in the rare organization that never has meetings (some medical practices or businesses centered around one creative individual are like this), you can experience big gains by going from zero to one. Anne Bogel reports that, “I am very meeting resistant. I don’t like to schedule them. I don’t like to have them. I don’t feel like they’re the best use of anyone’s time.” As her team grew to a dozen people, though, she realized that while everyone talked to her, they didn’t necessarily talk to one another. People didn’t know what everyone else was doing. “We were missing opportunities for cross promotion,” she says. And so, kicking and screaming, Bogel instituted one thirty-minute post-lunch check-in each week. Floor-length curtains are probably some of the most versatile of window dressings for the casement windows in your home.
If going from zero to one is helpful, though, going from one to twenty-five meetings per week is less so. Meetings proliferate beyond the point of usefulness because people persist in managing by time, not by task. People meet because it is Tuesday at 10:00 A.M., and this team always meets on Tuesday at 10:00 A.M. People meet for an hour because that is how long meetings are. It’s unclear what your particular role is in a meeting, but you go because the meeting is happening and your employer is entitled to your time on Tuesday at 10:00 A.M. When everyone’s schedule is packed with meetings, they enact a secondary cost: people don’t feel they can talk to colleagues or clients without a scheduled meeting, and since these meetings can’t get scheduled until far in the future (because people’s schedules are packed with other meetings) work slows considerably. This is especially true for virtual work: while you might bump into that colleague you’re trying to connect with in the office elevator, and thus go around formal channels, this won’t happen in your home office. Many people find it hard to dress their sash windows appropriately, not wanting to obscure them whilst still needing the privacy that window dressings afford.
Fortunately, virtual work presents an opportunity to innovate, not replicate. Theoretically, virtual meetings should already be more efficient, since you don’t need to travel between meetings. I have also heard the more cynical observation that if a meeting is going to be useless, a conference call at least allows you to multitask (more on that in the next section). But instead of just converting all your in-person meetings to conference calls and video calls—and using the transition time for more meetings, as an offering on the altar of collaboration—really think about which ones need to happen. Earliest windows were not nearly as sophisticated as the later designs and modern aluminium windows take things to the next level.
Maybe you can change your culture to be more judicious with scheduled appointments. Managing by task, not time, means asking this: What is the most efficient way of achieving the desired result? As for the meetings that do happen? Managing by task, not time, means focusing on results. Have a purpose: What will change in the world as a result of this meeting taking place? If nothing will change, think hard about whether you need to meet. What is the agenda? Who needs to be in the meeting or on the call to achieve the purpose? What will everyone in the meeting or on the call do with every minute they are there? If the answer is just sit there . . . then you’ve got an organization that’s stuck in the mind-set that employees owe you hours. Your employees’ time and attention is a valuable resource. Directed right, it can achieve great things. Misdirected, it presents a huge opportunity cost. At the end of each meeting or call, reflect on whether this gathering achieved its purpose. If not, why not? What could be done better? A time-honoured sash windows london is brought into the modern age with the unique concealed spring balance system, allowing all the functionality and aesthetic appeal with a contemporary approach.
Planning meetings this way takes more effort. Indeed, you can’t have many of them unless you’ve got a full-time chief of staff ensuring that your meetings are meticulously planned. For those of us who have not attained that level, this natural check on meetings is not a bad thing. The payoff of having only well-planned gatherings is huge. Benford reports that now that more meetings have an agenda sent out in advance, “we’re ending more meetings earlier than usual. When we’re done, we’re done.” The pandemic forced the issue, but “I think this new normal is ultimately going to be more effective for all of us.”