Meeting Hell

From one of my favorite software engineering books, Eric Brechner’s I.M. Wright’s Hard Code:

None of us is as dumb as all of us

An especially evil form of interruption is the meeting.   A meeting forces you to stop productive work and throw yourself into a frustrating, time-consuming, black hole of wasted life from which you can never recover.  However, there are several actions you can take to minimize the life-draining effect of meetings:

  • Stop going.  There are only a few meetings you must attend: your on-on-ones, your project status meetings, and your staff meetings.  Almost all other meetings are discretionary.  If a meeting feels optional, try skipping it.  If nothing bad happens, don’t go again.
  • Make someone else attend.  Try delegating the meeting to someone else.
  • Run effective meetings.  As for meetings that are left, make them as effective as possible.
  • Put all your meetings back to back.  I know this sounds strange, but the idea is to reduce context switches.  First, try to schedule your project and staff meetings early in the week, and then schedule all your one-on-one meetings around them.  Sure, the early part of your week will be hellish, but the middle and the end of your week will have uninterrupted blocks of time.

Sage advice.

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