The Right Number of Meetings

In talking to a couple of friends this weekend in separate conversations, I heard two seemingly opposing statements. The first statement came from Lauren, a teacher. Lauren was having a particularly busy week and observed

“It’s like I’m being pecked to death by ducks… except in this case the ducks are meetings.”

This is a busy time of year for Lauren; she is planning a brand new curriculum and report cards are due by the end of the week at her school. Instead of spending her non-classroom hours doing these things she has been roped into one meeting after another talking about everything from disciplinary matters, to college prep, to the school’s composting commission. All of the meetings are important to some degree but, as Lauren sees it, her job is to perform in the classroom and give timely assessments of her students and both of these things are being negatively affected by her meeting load.

Mark is a medical supply salesman. He recently returned from an annual conference where he talked with many of his peers about different sales techniques and learned more about the latest medical supply technology. He is still on a high from the conference and pumped to start implementing everything he learned. Talking about his experience, Mark said:

“I just wish those conferences were more than once a year. Hearing what other people are doing makes me feel less like I work in a vacuum.”

Mark’s job is naturally isolating. He spends most of his time in his car driving to hospitals and doctors’ offices and most of the time he spends in his own office is spent doing paperwork.

How do meetings fit into your worklife? Do they distract from what you want to be doing or do they help you do a better job?

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