Thursday, March 5, 2015

Meetings are not my favorite

We'll make this quick

No, you won't.  You'll drag me into a room, you'll hook up your computer to the AirPlay. You'll answer 'one quick email' before the presentation starts. Someone will go get coffee.  We'll sit there. What was a 10:00am meeting is now a 10:07am meeting.  10:12am. Okay great we're getting started. I think.  Right?  Okay yes it's ten fifteen and we're all here and now the meeting is starting.  Awesome.

One of my favorite things to do while I'm at work is to actually work.  I like it.  I'm good at it.  I enjoy using my hands (yeah, I'm a prick, I'm not doing anything particularly manly, I know) to actually build something.  In my case it's web applications.  Whatever it may be, I like to sit there, nose to the grindstone, and put my mind through it's paces. I get off on that.  It's my favorite.

My least favorite thing is a day when I don't feel like I've gotten anything accomplished.  A day when I feel like 'Damn it, I could have done so much more today' is a terrible day to me.  It's a loss.  As that repetitive ad on NPR keeps telling me every morning 'Steve Jobs said our most precious resource is obviously time,' I don't want to waste it.  I want to be able to sit down at the end of every day and have meaningful accomplishments I can look at.  Problems I solved.  Shit I got done.

Meeting Monsters

When the inevitable Meeting Monster sneaks up, he threatens to take that away from me.  Is this meeting critical to my job function?  Is this meeting going to improve what I'm doing?  And maybe this isn't all about me: maybe you need my help.  Is this meeting going to help you do your job better through something I can offer you?  Will I feel like I accomplished something by aiding you?  If the answer to these questions is 'Yes' then okay.  Swell.  Let me grab my mug and we'll do the damn thing.

If the answer to these questions is 'Well...' or 'I think so?' or 'Shut the hell up!'' then can I please, pretty please, skip this meeting? You don't need me, I don't need this meeting, let me do what I'm getting paid to do.

If I am sitting at my desk being productive, really killing it, pushing out work that would make Da Vinci cry tears of joy, then I don't want to get pulled into a meeting to discuss paperwork formatting or whether or not the copy is correct on the About Us page.  Someone just make a decision on that and we'll implement.  Never in the history of websites has there needed to be an All Hands meeting on which headshots we should use.

My John Mantra. Or Johntra.

On my team I try to keep my meeting style to this simple concept: "Is this meeting moving the business forward?" There can be no wheel-spinning, no jawing, no contemplating theoreticals. Are we making concrete important decisions or solving important problems? That's the goal. We should walk out of a meeting energized and smarter and ready to crush our next task.

Now, don't get me wrong.  Sometimes we just need to sit down and shoot the shit and chat about whatever.  Open forum-style.  The brain can't run at 100% for 8 hours a day every day.  It will literally, and I mean this in a very scientific way, melt out of your ears.  You need breaks in the monotony.  You need to hit the reset button.

But in my opinion and in my experience, scheduled meetings are almost never the way to do this.