Experiment 7: Clean Up Your Meetings - results!

Hello fellow lab rat

Apologies for the delay in reporting back the results from Experiment 7 - things have been busy in my world (or more accurately, I’ve been prioritising my time elsewhere…).

So - remember Experiment 7: Clean up Your Meetings? In case you need a recap, I asked you to review all your meetings from either the preceding or proceeding fortnight and ask yourself three questions:

  1. Was it required for my job? 

  2. Did it help me move closer to my ideal work life? 

  3. Did it bring joy? 

For all meetings that did not satisfy at least one of these three conditions, you were asked to eliminate them. 

This experiment produced some HUGE results:

  • Productivity increased by 21%

  • Meeting effectiveness increased by 39%

  • The number of meetings that you attended reduced by 29%

  • The time you spent in meetings reduced by 34%

  • And the number of people in your meetings reduced by 16%.

My big learning from this experiment is that my meeting life is actually very “clean”. I’ll admit that every single meeting I had participated in during the preceding two weeks, and every meeting I had coming up in my diary the following week satisfied at least one (if not several) of the three conditions.

When I reflected on why this was so, I arrived at three conclusions:

  1. I don’t work for a big corporate. I have a close friends who works for one of the big banks and whenever I catch up with her, I hear about Death by Zoom (well not Zoom, because the banks don’t like Zoom…but MS Teams…which from a user experience point of view, is an even more horrible way to die…). A standard day for my friend would be 7-8 hours of back-to-back Zoom meetings, and on particularly bad weeks, I’ve known her to be on Zoom as late as 10pm. And only after that can she get her actual job done. When she shares these experiences, I feel physically ill thinking about the inefficiency and let’s face it, human suffering, that corporate life is inflicting upon its inhabitants. 

  2. I’m not CEO anymore. In my ”CEO of Inventium” life, I definitely had more meetings. And I’m sure I would have had several meetings that would have justified a clean up. But as a full-time Maker, most of my meetings tend to be about things that I am making (which bring me joy), along with sales meetings where I am selling the things I have made (which also brings me joy to help get my “things” out into the world and having an impact).

  3. I say “no” a lot. In 2019, I was asked to deliver a presentation at Atlassian’s global customer summit in Vegas. I sat in on quite a few other presentations and there was an awesome one that stuck with me from a product leader at Trello. She told that audience that the best productivity tip she knew was to say “no”.  I used to be terrible at saying no, but I made a deliberate attempt over the last couple of years to get better at it. I view saying no as the most effective way of valuing my time and aligning how I use my time with what matters to me. I get a lot of people writing to me to ask for my time, whether it be to pick my brain on something, to get career advice, to chat innovation, to speak at an event for free, and so on. And 95% of the time I say no.  Hence, no meetings to clean up.

So if you did try this experiment, I hope you are now reaping the results. And if you are passively reading these posts (no judgement from me), perhaps these results might inspire you to spring clean your meetings.

Finally, I’m going to be taking a few weeks off My Year of Better as I have an enormous project I am trying to make progress on which has an insanely tight deadline. Plus, Inventium has just started a six-month experiment to move to a four day week (which means upping my productivity significantly to fit five days worth of work into four), so I’m focused on getting into the grove of that.

I’ll be back in touch soon, and in the meantime, feedback is always welcome, as are areas you’d like me to explore in future experiments.

Back soon!