“What A Piece of Work Are Meetings!”

Meetings seem to suck the life out of me.

I was in meetings for about three and a half hours today, and I’m sitting here on the train, exhausted. I’m not just emotionally drained, I’m physically tired and all I did most of the day was sit and listen to someone present ideas. Don’t get me wrong, most of the meetings I was in were interesting and thought provoking; I was looking at some fairly cutting-edge web technology.

But here I am, like the boy from the Gary Larson Far Side cartoon asking to be excused because my brain is full.


I’m sure part of it physical: sitting for hours on end makes anybody lethargic. Maybe we should all start lobbying for treadmills in our conference rooms. Better yet, let’s do our conferences outside while we’re all cycling around town.

But I think another part of the “meeting drain” is psychological. We spend so much time talking about all the great things we’re going to accomplish that we never have enough time to actually accomplish them. We often leave our meetings with an excitement that quickly fades away once we realize it’s almost time to go home.

I know meetings are important. Or rather, the reasons we often have them is important: everyone needs to be on the same page; everyone needs to stay accountable to other team members; everyone needs to catch a glimpse of what’s next. These are very important goals—especially in large organizations where failure in these areas usually means a project trainwreck—that often need face-to-face interaction to accomplish

But as soon as meetings become detached from practical action—actually doing stuff—creativity withers and dies. “And thus the native hue of resolution is sicklied oe’r with the pale cast of thought, and enterprises of great pith and moment with this regard their currents turn awry, and lose the name of action.”

Freewrite #6