Entrepreneurs Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson write in Rework
that “interruption is the enemy of productivity.”
And meetings are the worst type of interruption.
Here a few of the reasons Fried and Heinemeier Hansson think meetings can be “toxic”:
1. They lack focus: Many meetings don’t have clear agendas, and as a result they tend to drift chaotically from one topic to another.
2. They’re scheduled like TV shows: The amount of time allotted for a meeting is usually dependent on the scheduling software that’s being used (e.g., 30 minutes).
For example, no one ever schedules a 7 minute meeting. But if that’s how long it would take to achieve the meeting’s goal, then that’s all the time you need.
3. They’re costly: When you bring five people together for a 1 hour meeting, it’s actually a 5 hour meeting because you’re trading 5 hours of productivity for 1 hour of meeting.
The cost is even higher if you factor in the “mental switching costs that come with stopping what you’re doing, going somewhere else to meet, and then resuming what were you doing beforehand.”
But sometimes you need to have a meeting.
In those cases, Fried an Heinemeier Hansson recommend the following tips:
- Always have a clear agenda.
- Invite the minimum number of people necessary to accomplish the agenda.
- Begin with a specific problem.
- Meet at the site of the problem instead of a conference room: “Point to real things and suggest real changes.”
- End with a solution to the problem and make someone responsible for implementing it.
- Set a timer, and when it goes off the meeting’s over. Period.