Do I need to be here?

The purpose of this post is to answer the most important questions when managing your calendar in the workplace, especially at Logos, “do I need to be here?”

With every calendar request you get you need to be asking yourself this question. It can be a difficult question to answer, but an important one to master.

Thoughts on your time and calendar:

  • You are responsible for your own time at work and are trusted to use it wisely. Do not let your calendar control you, control your calendar.
  • “Tentative” and “decline” are perfectly acceptable responses to any calendar request. The key to using them well is to give reasonable and rational reasons of why you will not attend (more on this later).
  • If you need contiguous time during the day to be productive, then mark that off as time unavailable on your calendar. This helps avoid being scheduled for meetings during times that are disruptive to you.
  • Do unto others as… you get it, be respectful of others’ time and calendars and they will be respectful of yours.

So in answering the “do I need to be here” question I offer this handy checklist:

  1. From the meeting title is it something that you KNOW you should attend?
  2. From the meeting description is it something that you THINK you should attend?
  3. From the meeting title or description is it something that you would LIKE to attend?
  4. Is it a mandatory meeting being held by your project lead/team lead/supervisor/manager/vp/ceo?

If you cannot say yes to any of the above, then in reality you probably don’t need to be there. That does not mean you CANNOT attend, that just means you do not NEED to be there. If you answer no or maybe to any or all of the above then use your discretion. Go if you have time and it will not kill your productivity. Otherwise, it is a matter of realizing that you DO NOT need to attend every meeting you are invited to.

Other thoughts and tips:

  • If you get to a meeting and realize you are not useful there, politely excuse yourself. No need to further waste your time.
  • Check to see if you are listed as an optional attendee, if so then even the organizer thinks you may not attend.
  • Triage your calendar everyday (I do it the previous day before I leave). I look through my meetings one last time and decide if I am going to go or not go (see my note below about declining a meeting).
  • Do unto others…It is hard to decide on a meeting if you do not know what it is about. Save everyone’s time and energy. Put a great description of what you will be talking about in the meeting. Sometimes you will realize that a meeting is unnecessary. I often can offer all of the feedback necessary quickly in a response that makes a meeting superfluous (yeah that just happened).

On declining well:

Nothing sucks worse than setting up a meeting, showing up, and no one coming. Why does this happen? Because people don’t offer explanations or mentions that they will not attend. They silently decline (without sending remarks) a meeting and HOPE the organizer notices. Bad form. If you decline or set yourself tentative for a meeting, it helps to tell the organizer why. That way if you are really needed, it gives them a chance to adjust.

Be kind, politely decline.

How much is marketing time worth?

I ran some fresh calculations this morning, and our time is currently worth an average of $33/hr. per person. That includes salary, taxes, benefits, and overhead. Please use this number in your cost analysis and ROI calculations until further notice.

 

Also, let’s factor this number in with reference to the meetings we have. Here are ten suggestions how:

  1. Make sure the meeting is necessary and that the issue can’t be solved more efficiently (through an email, IM, phone call, or quick visit).
  2. Let people know in advance what the meeting is about so they can be prepared and make an informed decision about whether to attend.
  3. Keep the meeting length as short as possible.
  4. Be well prepared, especially if you’re leading the meeting.
  5. Start on time. Take charge, set the agenda, get down to business, and keep things on track and moving quickly.
  6. Invite only the people that need to be there (but don’t invite too few so that the meeting is wasted time).
  7. Give people the opportunity and freedom to be excused if they don’t need to be there. Asked to be excused if you don’t need to be there. Feel free to accept meetings as tentative or decline them.
  8. End meetings on time. If you’ve covered everything you need to cover, end the meeting early.
  9. For recurring meetings, make sure you’re not having them too frequently.
  10. Regularly audit your calendar to make sure you’re not suffering from meeting creep.

Thanks!

 

Phil

10 Ways to Optimize Meetings

Meetings can be great tools for collaboration, but they can also be expensive (currently $33/hr. per person) and a huge time suck. Here are ten ways you can optimize your meetings:
  1. Make sure the meeting is necessary and that the issue can’t be solved more efficiently (through an email, IM, phone call, or quick visit).
  2. Let people know in advance what the meeting is about so they can be prepared and make an informed decision about whether to attend.
  3. Keep the meeting length as short as possible.
  4. Be well prepared, especially if you’re leading the meeting.
  5. Start on time. Take charge, set the agenda, get down to business, and keep things on track and moving quickly.
  6. Invite only the people that need to be there (but don’t invite too few so that the meeting is wasted time).
  7. Give people the opportunity and freedom to be excused if they don’t need to be there. Asked to be excused if you don’t need to be there. Feel free to accept meetings as tentative or decline them.
  8. End meetings on time. If you’ve covered everything you need to cover, end the meeting early.
  9. For recurring meetings, make sure you’re not having them too frequently.
  10. Regularly audit your calendar to make sure you’re not suffering from meeting creep.

What suggestions do you have for making the most of meetings?