The Work of Work

I saw a short post on meetings, which made me chuckle. The post said that meetings are work, and sometimes they get in the way of other work. I think that’s a sentiment that many people have, especially when they are pressured to write code or manage systems and their daily calendar gets cluttered with meetings.

I find meetings to be very hit-and-miss for my job. Some are valuable and helpful, with plenty of others being unnecessary and an impediment to getting things done. It is hard to know when a meeting will be helpful or a waste of time, but often I find status meetings to be not worth the time required to attend. They very often are not worth the amount of attention they require, which has me wishing that I could just update status in a system or email rather than listening to others and presenting my own report.

That being said, meetings aren’t likely to completely disappear for any of us. Whether manager, developer, administrator, or anything else, it seems that getting together is still a regular part of working in an organization. While I do think the remote meetings result in more targeted meetings, focused on a particular topic, they also seem to be more jarring to me. The context switch is jarring, going from some piece of work to immediately being around other people. I find myself missing the pace of walking to and from a room and chatting with others. It’s a good way to get prepared before and decompress afterward.

Too many of us, do a poor job of accounting for the impact meetings have on the work we need to get done. Whether we are estimating our own workload or trying to manage others and plan for what they will accomplish in a week, we struggle to consider the work of meetings. Both the time spent in meetings, as well as the time preparing for a meeting. We certainly don’t often consider the need to think about the results and action items from a meeting. That’s not to mention the impact of context-switching on our concentration.

The idea of bunching meetings into a few days or times during the week might be most helpful for me. I like the flexibility to move my creative work around as much as possible. There are times I can code or write, and when those times occur, I want to spend a lot of time in that state of mind. Interruptions are a killer to productivity. I find myself sometimes blocking off sections of days just to prevent meetings from being scheduled. If possible, I prefer a number of back-to-back meetings on one day and nothing on others.

Meetings are a part of work, but they also are work. You can love or hate them, but finding ways to cope with the impact of meetings is helpful to becoming a more productive worker. It’s also important to ensure your management recognizes the impact of meetings and tries to minimize that impact on any other deliverables on which you are working.

Steve Jones

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About way0utwest

Editor, SQLServerCentral
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