Lesson 9: Your Time Is Valuable. Act Like It.

 

Raise your hand if you believe you attend too many meetings every day at work. Ok good. Now raise your other hand if more than 50% of those meetings feel like wasted time. I’ll bet the majority of people reading this look pretty ridiculous because they are raising both of their hands.

In all seriousness, meetings are a problem. According the Harvard Review, Executives spend an average of 23 hours a week in meetings. If a majority of those meetings aren’t beneficial, then you are shooting yourself in the foot twice. Once for the wasted collective dollars spent having multiple Executives in a room, and a second time for the lost productivity.

We’re all susceptible to taking too many meetings in our weekly calendar. Part of it, however, is on the swing in company culture and expectations that I’ve observed over the last ten years or so. The move towards shared calendars.

Why are we working 50, 55 and 60 hours per week now? Partly because the shared calendar is an invitation to invade your short, precious work week. Every 30 minute block that someone steals is 6.25% of your day. Booking an hour? 12.5%. Employee to employee shared calendars is the opposite of protecting your time. And for what? To ask a question that could have been solved by looking online, in the company knowledge center or on the company intranet? Wasteful.

I’m not saying you should have zero meetings. I’m not encouraging you to blow off that invitation from your boss. I also realize that time with your leadership team is important. You know the meetings I’m talking about. The ones that you know aren’t necessary the minute they hit your inbox. The ones that creep into your calendar in the spots you have open to do actual, real work.

Who’s fault is that? Partially yours. Your time is valuable. Any new meeting should be courted and wooed like someone trying to land a first date (especially if it’s 60 minutes!). Just requesting your time should come with an explanation and proof of prior diligence. If you’re not requiring that from your employees, they aren’t learning how to problem solve. Navigating your org, including figuring out answers to their questions on their own, is part of being a good employee.

Remember that your time is valuable. Figure out how much time you want to spend…well…not in meetings, rather than in them.

Block that time off in your calendar, open up some office hours, turn off your Slack notifications, and put your Mac on “Do Not Disturb”.

You’ve got real work to do.