Calendar Tetris

I’d like to thank Tetris for making me really good at scheduling my meetings.

The worst part about going to meetings is that they interrupt what could otherwise be productive work time, and it takes a long time to get back in the groove of what you were doing.

The problem

It’s Monday morning, and you just woke up with that feeling of dread of going to work and starting your workweek.
Coffee is brewing, you are getting ready for work, and you are thinking about the meetings you have to attend today.

Log in to your calendar, and you will see that you have nine meetings today. Most of them are 30 minutes long, but some are 1 hour long. Some are part of your lunch. Great, you have to eat your lunch in front of your computer.

Following that day of 16 March 2020, when the world changed, I started working from home. Now meetings are a part of my daily life. I have to attend meetings, I have to schedule meetings, and I have to reschedule meetings.

I have to do all this while trying to be productive and finish my work.

In the old days, having a coffee with a colleague was a great way to get to know each other better, break the day, and have a Monday rant before you had to attend this important meeting.
Not anymore; all the meetings are online, and all are important. Each and every one of them. All nine.

Meeting FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)

One of the most common reasons we attend too many meetings is FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out. As meeting participants, we worry that our colleagues will judge us — or worse yet, forget about us — if we don’t accept every invitation.

The Oxford Dictionaries online defines the fear of missing out as
““Anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website.””

The concept originated early this century alongside the rise of social media, which opened windows into lives everywhere. FOMO is also the subject of at least three studies, establishing it as a concrete psychological phenomenon in the Age of Information. The popular podcast Note to Self even dedicated an entire episode to it.

The solution

What do you really need to do to get your work done? Which meetings are essential?

Most times, you can bundle meetings. And reject the ones that are not important.
Choose to send a slack message instead of scheduling a meeting. It’s faster and more efficient.

Does the meeting really need to be 1 hour long? Can you make it 30 minutes? What about 20 minutes?
Most meetings are lengthy because they need to be better prepared. Meeting with an agenda is a good use of time. Most times going to a meeting is to address a specific issue. Without an agenda, the meeting will take longer or be less productive by discussing other topics.

Do you need a recurring meeting? Can you make it a weekly meeting?
Some meetings are recurring, yet nothing is to be discussed. Ask yourself if you really need to attend that meeting every week. Ask the organizer if you can make it a monthly meeting.

The -10 minutes rule.
If a meeting is 60 minutes long, you can make it 50 minutes long.
save those 10 mins for a cup of water and for some time to absorb what was discussed. If a meeting is 30 minutes long, you can make it 20 minutes long, etc.

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” - Abraham Lincoln