How to Calculate All the Money You’re Wasting on Meetings
A little over 10 years ago, when I worked as an entertainment editor at a newspaper, I learned firsthand the feeling of futility that meetings can create. I was in a conference room with a yellow legal pad and pen with a few other staffers, ready for a meeting to begin to discuss our coverage of South by Southwest.
The meeting began, and after some initial small talk about our weekends and some fumbling with email printouts… nothing happened. The conversation dried up. Someone may have coughed.
We realized, with a mixture of horror and “You gotta be shitting me!” bemusement, that the person who called the meeting weeks before no longer worked with us. And on top of that, we had no real agenda or tangible ground to cover; it was still too early to do any significant planning for this festival and we all had other work that was far more pressing.
The meeting was adjourned early, we had a laugh, but I wish I could say this was the only meeting in my long office career that didn’t need to happen. This particular meeting, like so many others, wasn’t just a waste of our time; it also cost our company money. Even journalists, who aren’t known for their high pay, have a set of skills that makes their time valuable. The time we spent huddled in an unproductive meeting was time we could have each spent working on daily assignments and long-term projects.
Before Covid-19 shifted nearly all work meetings for many people to webcam-based virtual gatherings, meetings usually worked like this: someone, typically a manager, decided that an upcoming project or topic was important enough to gather over. Either that person sends out an email or calendar invite telling people to meet at a location, time, and date, or a whole process began of “What’s a good time everyone can meet for this important discussion?” Even with tools such as Doodle or WhenToMeet to pick an optimal gathering time, that process can drag on and delay important discussions.