Making time for hard thinking

I lead a handful of meetings every week. These are standup- same day, same time, same attendees week after week.

It usually takes a full hour to talk through priorities, new developments, upcoming milestones & deadlines. Even with a consistent set of participants this takes time

It’s exhausting. And I’m not the only one who thinks so…

Yesterday one of these meetings took place in just 22 minutes. Let’s do the math:

12 people x 60 min = 720 minutes each week
12 people x 22 min = 264 minutes this week

720 - 264 = 456 minutes saved (7.6 hours)

This is the power of asynchronous work and showing up to meetings prepared. Now everyone has more time to go on a walk, for hard thinking, concentration, or to curiously tinkering. Hopefully the next breakthrough comes out of this.

Here’s how I did it:

  • Agenda: I focused on the meeting’s format & flow, learned what I could about all the projects & tasks currently happening and coming up. This happens days ahead of the scheduled meeting.
  • Schedule: I broke down dates and milestones into what’s know, what’s changed, and outlined questions.
  • I then shared this list and asked for confirmation and corrections from all attendees.
  • Status & Blockers: I asked each participant to update their status and resolve any tasks waiting for feedback, and identify any blockers.
  • Final note: A few hours before the scheduled meeting I remind everyone to make any finals notes/adjustments and to come prepared to discuss their projects.

I first set the agenda days (sometimes a week) before the scheduled meeting. This gives me time to consider everything in detail. This also gives plenty of time for attendees to organize themselves ahead of time.

I might be a squeaky wheel throughout the week, but when everyone shows up prepared we get more done, save time, increase productivity, and make this meeting much more bearable for all.

What can your team do with an extra 7.6 hours of hard thinking each week? Go make something special.

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