Cancel your meetings if you can live with the outcome


In the corporate world, many of us are having too many meetings. We feel that we can’t “get work done”. We don’t have long(er) timeframes to focus on. The next meeting starts in 30 min. Jobs that need long focus time especially suffer from this (like software development or other STEM jobs). Paul Graham summarizes this in his article Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule.

At a previous workplace, during onboarding, I was introduced to a new rule:

You can cancel every meeting as long as you live with the outcome.

At first, this sounds scary or even like a threat. After a while, this shifted to be my new habit. This freed up a lot of time on my calendar - Still to date.

If you are honest with yourself, you may figure out that …

  • many meetings have too many participants
  • some folks only attend meetings for an fyi purpose (and don’t say a single word)
  • sometimes, you can’t influence or change the decision at all
  • your input can be fed in asynchronously in written form before the meeting
  • a (basic) meeting protocol is often enough to gain context
  • no one has time to waste

Meetings can be valuable if they are conducted well. Often, this is different. Protect your time. Start canceling meetings.