During my commute to the office this morning I sat next to a very executive lady. She was flipping through at least 200 hundred freshly printed pages of paper. From the looks of it, minutes, memos and other valuable material for an upcoming meeting. From the expression on her face I got the impression that she hadn’t prepared for the meeting and that the meeting was not more that 60 minutes away.
I was thinking about my pre-GTD time where I had several tricks to mask being not prepared in a meeting. I wrote dates in the upper right corner of every first page, with my autograph. I sometimes folded the corners to give the impression that I read the whole thing. Watching the lady made me feel a bit embarrassed while thinking back. How foolish a person can become!
How much money is wasted here. The time and effort to write the memos and other stuff. The paper and the time of the meeting that most probably won’t be very effective. “Lets think about it some more and discuss it in the next meeting….”
I have developed some habits in this area to stop this silly practice.
1. If someone asks me to write something I first try to find out what the successful outcome is for the person I need to write that piece for. When I ask someone to write a memo I give a specific outcome for the memo, a problem to solve or a solution to propose.
2. If I haven’t been able to prepare myself or read a piece I just excuse myself upfront and tell I wasn’t able to read it. Most of the time I haven’t been a slacker but there was just too much in my schedule. Or to be honest, it wasn’t worth reading. It is better to just say just that than keep alive a practice that only deliver drawers full of memos, vision documents and project plans that no one will ever pay attention to.
3. If minutes for a meeting are overdone I just stick with an action list. Sometimes minutes are required but if not, most of the time an action list will just do. How can someone call a meeting where you have to speak about 200 hundred pages anyway? Not unless the meeting lasts a couple of days.
To those who read this and remember me in a meeting with those folded corners and nice autographed date stamped memos, I am sorry to have fooled you. And for that matter I am sorry that I was fooling myself!
Republished by permission from the author. Productivity 101 is Fokke’s blog.