czwartek, 23 maja 2013

Don't let yourself for time wasting

A few years ago I really hated when I had to participate in meetings. It wasn't important what topics were discussed on those meetings, it wasn't important who was there, I just found all of them time and strength consuming. For a long time I thought that meetings are useless activity and there are many others things which can be done instead, far more important things. I even could spend my time on such a "cool" activities as cutting a layout or writing a documentation. There also weren't too interesting activities, but at least I found them somehow useful, there was value in it.
And meetings? Useless conversations and almost always without any conclusions. And even if we made decision, it was, sooner or later, changed. Probably on the different meeting.

It was really hard times.

Hopefully it's over now and meetings in my current team are completely different.
But I cannot tell those past and not so pleasent experiences are something that I want to forget and throw out from my head. No, to be honest, from time perspective, I'm really happy that I had this bad luck to participate in all of them. Thanks this I've learned what we should avoid. I've learned that even great processes or techniques, if in practice are done wrongly, are becoming just a waste of time.
Second lesson leads me to conclusion that if we are doing something well, we should never stop with making further improvements.

And what was problem with those meetings? There were many factors under this, but there is one main - problems with organization.
There were no wars between us or fights, we were arguing in pretty polite ways, but we were terrible disorganized. There was too flexible time frames, just after few minutes from begining we started to talk about everything, we were jumping from one topic to the other and we ended without conclusions, physically and mentally exhausted.

So how we handled this problems and do we really done it?

this lovely chaos

We all know there were a problems. We should stick the time frame and the topic, but:
  • There were so many extremely important things to share with all people gathered in the room, people, who were almost impossible to gather in one place at the same time.
    And that's good point, even excellent I would say, but not for, rather against all this unrelated activities. Why? The more difficult those meetings are to schedule the more important is to use the time in the most efficient way. We cannot afford for wasting time of some so many people.

  • When we were done with planned time, we usually makes the meeting longer... and longer... until it was too long...
    It really wasn't wise idea. If after fixed time frame (usually it was one hour) we did had no conclusion, it was obvious sign, that we probably won't had it at all today. We should just stand up, thanks each other for time spend on the meeting and arrange another one. Or at least we should have break and after, I don't know, half an hour maybe, we could get back with a fresh minds.

  • No breaks, various topics, more time consuming meetings. More means more, isn't it?
    I believe that everyone know that it isn't true. Whenever you are talking about everything, it doesn't matter how long you will talk, how many arguments will be spoken, how much of them will have sense and will be important, it goes nowhere, you are going nowhere. Is it even possible to articulate at least one sensible conclusion when you are focus on everything?
    To be honest, if you are doing it in this way, you are focus on nothing.

  • Talking about the same things all over again.
    No conclusion from previous meeting means that case was not closed, if it wasn't closed it means that we need to spend our time and finally end it, but... there is so many other things to say, there is so many cool things around us... and we are in the same place once again, all over again.
    Focus! Focus on one particular thing, on meeting goal. You cannot save the world, but probably you can make it a little better place, but it requires acting not talking. If you are wasting your time on fruitless conversations you won't never start to act.
    Don't let yourself to became a talker, you need to be doer!

  • All activities on all of those meetings made us exhausted. Exhausted, but with this great feeling that our work was important and will have impact on our future.
    If it would be a true, than there would be no issue at all. I know that doing great things require lot of effort, work and focus and after all you aren't tired - you are exhausted. But whenever this activites have sense, whenever you were working on something which really matter, then you feel satisfaction and you are proud of it. Fatigue mixed with those feelings is this kind of feeling, that everyone wants to experience as often as it possible.
    But this work need to be important, you need to create something (conclusion is also a good product) if you want to feel like this. Either way you will be just exhausted.

  • If you are motivated you are looking for improvements, you are creative and more productive. Even if your "work to do" is to participate in the meeting, you will have greater ideas when you are motivated.
    If you need to go to the room, where you will talk about the same stuff as usual, you assuming, that, as usual, it will take more time, that is planned and it will bring no conclusion (again), you cannot be motivated. You won't prepare well, because you will find it useless. After few meetings you will become less active, because you will knew, that it's waste of your effort, you will become silent person in this room.
    And when all participators feels exactly the same, your meetings became really useless activities.

Don't let yourself for time wasting

Not only yourself, but all other people also.
Next time, before your meeting will start, you should choose one person, who will be responsible for meeting order. This person should keep watching time frames and interrupt whenever someone starts talking on unrelated things. I know that everyone can (should?) be responsible for this, but, based on my experience, I think it's better to delegate one person to this. You can change him/her per each meeting, but it's really important to have such a person in the room.

Second, even more important thing, is to choose a topic which should be discussed and it's good to start with something simple. I know that someone can claim why we were talk about such a basic topics if there are so many far more important issues to solve. People prefer to talk about saving the world rather than focus on small steps, which will lead you to reach this goal. And that's why so many of them fails.

You can tell your friends, that you tried save the world many times before and you are still in the same place, so it would be better to focus on small things and do them, rather than talk once again about the huge issues.

You need to remeber that each complex issue is sum of many smaller ones, so if you will start working on them and solving them one by one, maybe one day you will meet together and topic of your meeting will be 'save the world' :)