I was sitting in a meeting earlier and found my mind wandering more than it should have. In fact, I caught myself wondering why I was there in the first place. I wasn’t adding any value to the meeting and couldn’t for the life of me figure out how I could contribute. The more I thought about it, the more I thought I should just get up and leave, but alas I knew that taking that approach would be rude and disruptive. Instead I stayed and began writing a list of things I could be doing instead of sitting and listening to a readout of someone else’s priorities.
I’m sure you’ve been there before and I’m sure, like me, you wanted more than anything to bolt out of that room to do something – anything – different. And, like me, I’m sure you stayed. Lately, I find that most meetings tend to be called out of habit or a sense of obligation to keep others informed. Perhaps it’s my current state of mind and my abhorrence of all things that seem forced and too corporate. Or perhaps I’m just at a point in my career where I value my time and am uber protective of my creative energy, both of which pointless meetings tend to waste and drain, leaving me bored, tired and unable – no, unwilling – to shake off without an infusion of an overpriced mocha latte from across town . . . I’m ranting. Sorry.
(Insert a deep exhale here.)
For your amusement and mine, following is the list I wrote during the meeting:
Things I’d Rather Be Doing:
- Eat. Why didn’t I eat breakfast?
- Figure out how to create a shared drive in that cloud server I set up . . . (seriously, how the HELL do I do this?)
- Make a tutu for the Disco. (Yes a tutu. Don’t judge me!)
- Pinterest. Mmmm, biscuits. (Because everyone needs 50 different ways to use a can of buttermilk biscuits, silly.)
- Call my mom back.
- Call Connie back.
- Weed the front yard. (Too bad I have a bad back and this will never, ever happen with these hands of mine.)
Surprise Ben (my 3 yr old) and pick him up early to go see a movie.(By the time I would be able to accomplish this, it will be his nap time and there is no way in hell I’m interrupting that. )
- Clear out my gmail; something tells me there are 4000 emails that I don’t need.
- Watch the final two episodes of Walking Dead, Season 2 on Netflix. (I consider this my mental training for the actual (read: inevitable) Zombie Apocalypse.)
- Deposit that check from Titi Gail (Good lord I’m so forgetful!)
- Go see a movie. (Not that I know what’s playing. I need to get out more.)
- Hang those pictures that have been waiting to be hung for over a year. Seriously.
- Paint the front door. (Bought the paint over the summer and yet it’s not painted . . .)
- I’m still hungry. When is lunch? Are those donuts up there?
- Make a fire and write a chapter of my book. (Ha! Yeah, that’s not going to happen.)
- Smack that lady tapping her pen. Stop it already.
I won’t continue to bore you, but I think you get the drift. When weeding my front lawn is more appealing than sitting through 5 more minutes of a meeting, something is definitely wrong. The reality is that you can’t count on others to hold productive meetings or limit participation to the select few who actually do need to be there. Instead, you have to be more selective of the meetings you attend and ensure that your contributions are actually needed. It’s okay to say no and it’s okay to prioritize your needs ahead of others on occasion. Sure, there are meetings that you HAVE to attend, either because of your role in the organization or your commitment to a person or project. When that’s the case and the meeting begins to veer off track, don’t hesitate to raise your hand and bring the team back to the agenda. No sense in wasting their time either, right?
If all else fails, I say we make a pact here and now to take a stand against bad meetings and their organizers. Let us rise up and and stand together against boredom, silliness, and pointless corporate decorum. Together we shall prevent bad meetings from happening by any means necessary. If that means doing a cartwheel across the conference table, we’ll do it. If we must leap up and begin a rousing game of ‘Duck, duck, goose’, then we shall do just that. Are you with me? Are you in? On three!
LET’S GO MEETING MANIACS!
I get it. That’s cool. I tell you what, I’m going to go grab some overpriced coffee and begin declining stupid meetings. If you change your mind, you know where to find me.