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Recurring meetings

As I was planning my week ahead a couple of days ago, I noticed that I had an average of fifteen hours worth of recurring meetings each week. I usually end up having another 8-10 hours of meetings each week that are non-recurring in nature.

Clearly, this was too much. Spending 25-27 hours a week in meetings isn't how I see myself being effective at what I do.

Over the years, I've come to learn that I have to put in about 2-3 hours of work for every one hour I spend in meeting. If I'm not doing that, it either means that I'm repeating myself in multiple meetings or I'm being a passive participant simply consuming information.

So, this week, I decided to address both these issues.

First, I looked at my calendar and combined meetings where I noticed that the salient points would be repeated with different stakeholders / participants. This I did either by adding people from multiple meetings to the same one where possible or by deciding to attend one and to send a written note to the others as to what my inputs would be.

Second, wherever I noticed I could be a passive participant, I requested for the information that would be discussed up front so that I could consume it at my own time and priority rather than attend the meeting.

These weren't possible for every meeting to do, but I still ended up cutting my recurring meeting time in half.

I've decided to not spend more than 15 hours a week in meetings as anything more is just counter-productive.

Managing recurring meetings (and meetings in general) has been a good lesson in how to deal with external influence on my time, and change the culture of those I work with in the process.

Last week, when I was talking to a friend about the culture of organizations, he asked me why I hadn't changed it.

The question was such an empowering one. I hadn't expected it at all. For most of us, when we look at the environment and the culture we are in that we don't like, it doesn't even occur to us that we can change it to the way we want it to be. We tend to either complain about it or grudgingly fit in.

But, nearly always, we can bring about the change we want to see in our culture. And the change starts with us setting the precedent and leading the way.

I'm starting with the small scope of my approach to recurring meetings. But I hope to do the same with anything I see that I don't agree with. 

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