Thursday, October 16, 2008

In Meeting Hell

I have to get out of meeting hell.  This week has been an absolute nightmare.  I am easily spending 80% of my time in meetings this day.  Part of this I just can't get out of.  I now directly manage ten people, each of which requires some amount of time.  I'm also responsible for resource planning for the division, and we are trying to plan for 2009 right now.  You add on top of that that I'm the person who knows the status of any technology project, and I see the inside of the meeting rooms more often then I see my own desk.

Today was especially bad.  It started at 9:00 with my 1 on 1 with the GM of the division.  I had a 30 minute window after that before my next meeting, just enough time for me to boot the computer, grab a cup of coffee, and get the e-mail started.  Notice I didn't say read e-mail, I said I got Outlook started.  From there, I had one one hour window that wasn't booked, and that was lunch.  No sooner did my 11:30 meeting end, did I get a call from someone who said I was needed in a lunch leadership meeting.  They suddenly realized that I need to be part of this commission and they were requesting my prescense.  Great.  It might have been OK since they provided lunch, but they served sandwiches, and I can almost never eat the sandwhiches they provide since I hate mayonaise.  After that, I had meetings till the end of the day.  So in all, I had 30 minutes in which I didn't have a meeting.  When the hell am I supposed to do resource planning?

It actually gets worse tomorrow.  While I don't have meetings every single minute of the day, I do have an 8:00 meeting.  How evil do you have to be to schedule an 8:00 meeting when the standard starting time is somewhere around 9:30?

Normally, I don't like to make complaints like this, it is just part of the job.  But this is a little over the top.  Most of the time I recommend a few things to get out of meeting hell

  • Block out your calendar and don't let people add you to meetings in that time

  • insist on understanding why you need to be at any meeting and reject those you don't have to be in

  • Ask the organizer what input he wants from you beforehand, and give it to him before the meeting

  • Delegate your responsibility to someone else who will attend, and get the notes and action items late

Unfortunately for me, most of these things won't work for me right now.  As awful as it is, I'm required at most of these meetings.  A lot of them are my 1 on 1's with people and I insist that I make time for those.  Those that don't fall in that category often fall into the strategy planning for the next year, things I not only need to be part of but want to be.    I guess there is always the weekend to actually get work done ...


  1. I find blocking out times on Outlook works the best.

  2. Sounds like my typical work day....