Are Meetings Stealing Your (and Others’) Time?
Are there many things more daunting for a day ahead than a calendar filled with back-to-back meetings? On these days, it’s not uncommon to feel like an entire day has passed without you getting to any of your “real” work. You’ve probably also noted that at least some of the meetings you participate in are not run as efficiently as they can be, and partly as a result, we see follow-up meeting notices and follow-up meetings for the follow-ups. The stress builds up. Are all of these meetings—taken as a given in our corporate-driven culture—truly necessary? And are all of these meetings stealing your spark?
Yogis 5,000+ years ago would use the word asteya, essentially “stealing,” to describe what is happening in the office. In this case, stealing one’s time*. How do you have time to think strategically while sitting in meetings, or traveling to the next one (or dialing in to the teleconference)? From a team standpoint, you generally need to show up to meetings that you are invited to. It would be bad form otherwise. On the other hand, consider how a company’s profitability could improve if employees had more time to truly process the challenges they face and think of creative solutions.
As the saying goes, “If you want to change the world, change yourself.” Here are some suggested steps you can take, drawing on the principles of mindfulness, to help you on this quest of opening up your calendar:
- Find a neutral mind state regarding the challenge of meeting overload. You don’t have to feel positive towards it, as that may be impossible, but be neutral.
- Before sending out that next meeting invite, consider whether the answers you and your company are looking for are already within you. In today’s corporate environment, we feel the need to move so fast and multi-task, but taking a moment to think and take a deep breath could save you an hour or so.
- On days where you cannot avoid the back-to-back meetings, wake up early and exercise and/or meditate. I guarantee that 10 mindful minutes will outweigh 10 more minutes of sleep, and this will help you rise above the stress of a meeting-packed day.
- Do not send or accept meeting invites without a clear agenda. You can make this new “policy” clear to your team, and before long, they will all be thanking you.
- Be the lighthouse yourself. If you notice a particular person tends to initiate unnecessary meetings, there may be underlying fears of perfection or self-doubt that they cannot do the work by themselves. Consider this potential underlying belief, and show up to their meeting exuding encouragement.
The possibilities are huge when the mind is focused. So take action and try something! Do not let stress rob you of any more of your health, vitality, and mental clarity.
“Persevere on, my brave lads, We have only just begun. Never despond! Never say enough!” -Swami Vivekananda
Heather Berse, Clarity Kingdom Founder, will be leading corporate mindfulness workshops in London this fall. Topics include Finding Your Edge Through Mindfulness, and Awakening Creativity. Imagine all that could happen and get done if distractions were removed and mindfulness reigned. For more information, contact Heather.
*Asteya is one of the yamas, which were yogis’ guidelines for social restraints and how we relate to each other so we can continue positively expanding