On Making Meetings and the Depletion of Time

Posted on October 1, 2015.

My friend Abby Covert recently reminded me of the scarcity and value of time. It’s the only material in existence that is constantly being depleted and cannot be replenished naturally or artificially.

Here’s the worst part — we have no idea how much of it we actually have.

Here’s the best part — you have a choice about how you spend it and how much of it you demand from others.

The next time you’re planning a meeting ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Is this a truly useful application of this non-renewable resource? (multiply that by the number of people invited and ask yourself that question again)
  2. Can I, and the others invited, fully commit to being at this meeting, on time and present for its entire duration?

If the answer to either one of those questions is no, cancel that meeting. If the answer to both of those questions is yes and you follow through with creating, inviting and planning for the meeting then you have made a commitment. You’ve committed to, not only, being at the meeting and present but also arriving on time (or early), finishing on time (or early) and ensuring a productive session.

Don’t take this commitment lightly. Making others wait for you, look for you if you’re late or reschedule the meeting because of a superseding priority wastes people’s time. Those minutes can never be regained. Remember, someone could step out of that meeting and get trampled by a herd of rampaging circus elephants. (Don’t think it’s possible? Ask me about the 3 elephant stampedes I witnessed in the United States in 1995).

As a final note on this, I acknowledge the inevitability of the “shit happens” reality. In our ever-connected worlds, however, this is rarely an acceptable excuse.