From the Trenches

Dealing with Workplace Interruptions

Mike Sweeney | August 10, 2010

I’ve always been very critical of people who justify their existence based on the number of time slots they fill in a given week with “meetings”. If you looked at my calendar this week, it would show no more than 5 official meetings.  I’m not busy, right?  Quite the opposite.  This week will probably be a 60 hour week when all is said and done.  It’s just that I’ve made a conscious decision – based on real “work” load – that at least 45 of those hours will be dedicated to delivery of services, and not meeting time.

Jason Fried, founder of 37 Signals, and author of Rework (which I need to read soon), sums up most of my feelings on the topic in the video below.  While I think he is further down the “no meetings” path than I am, he makes a lot of valid points.  In particular, the segment that resonates with me is the idea that our current workplaces are set up for interruptions, and those interruptions often completely destroy any momentum required to actually get “work” completed.

For the most part, our clients know that we don’t believe in face time for the sake of face time, but rather face time for the sake of getting something specific accomplished.  There is NO question that meetings, if planned and executed appropriately, can be far more effective than going back-and-forth via IM, email, or even phone calls.  In many cases though, meetings are often a selfish gesture on the part of the meeting organizer.

So put away your cell phone.   Shut down email.  Stop thinking about the next thing you need to do.  And by all means, pay attention to this video.


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