Meetings Are Toxic

The title of this post is the name of one of the chapters in the book, REWORK, by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson of 37signals. There are many chapters in this book that have inspired me to try some new things, but 'Meetings are Toxic' has led to one specific idea that people seem to really like so I thought I'd share.

As the guys point out in the book, just because Outlook (or Entourage or Google Calendar or whatever) defaults to scheduling in 30-minute increments doesn't mean that a meeting should last a second longer than it absolutely has to. To that end, I suggest scheduling meetings with non-traditional start and end times. If you think a meeting can be covered in 17 minutes, schedule it for 17 minutes. Start it on time and end it on time. And the odd start and end times will get people's attention and let them know you're serious.

All you have to do is, rather than selecting and start and end time on the hour or half hour, simply highlight the "Start time" and "End time" fields and manually type in an exact time:


People will ask you, "What's with the meeting you scheduled from 10:05 – 10:22?" You can say, "Well, I'm not available until 10:05 and I only need 17 minutes of your time, then I'm off to do something more important at 10:23." Is it a gimmick? Sure. But it drives home the point that meetings get derailed and dragged-on all the time and you're not having it any more.

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