I hate meetings, so I made sure we followed this rule
I have a passion for disliking meetings that could have been done over a message or even a quick call. With so many applications to help us communicate, even with the pandemic, I find most meetings a waste of time.
However, it took me a few months before I realized I was hypocritical of my own opinions. Since I work on a startup after work every day, I help lead a team of three on our passion project to build out a survey tool powered by AI.
It’s definitely a time-consuming project which is why I started introducing meetings regularly in our schedules to keep us accountable and supported.
At least that’s what I thought.
Meetings would be a standard part of our routine after work, and follow-ups were done in each session. Ironically at the start of our journey, meetings were a common occurrence.
One day I was in a private call with one of my co-founders, casually talking about the stock market when he mentioned the number of meetings we had. Although I am paraphrasing what he talked about, he said something along the lines of
“You know we don’t need to have this many meetings right. Just have a long WIP (work in progress) every week and we’re good”
I didn’t really think about it until he directly addressed it with me. Since no one really raised any issue, I decided to raise it on our next call with the rest of the team.
To my surprise, everyone resonated with this much better
After I raised this during our meeting, everyone agreed that this was the better framework to go off. One session for the whole week, and the rest of the time, we will use applications like Whatsapp and Slack (yes, we’re weird, we use both).
This moment made me realize that what I was doing was exactly what I dislike when others do it at work — instating pointless meetings into an already busy schedule. Although others might argue that having meetings might be necessary for a startup, it isn’t when the work output is exactly the same (in our case, even better).
Fewer Meetings is generally better
There I said it, and I’m not taking it back.
There have been situations where we needed to do meetings because of special events (such as applying for an accelerator), but we have since kept to one longer meeting with the team per week (sometimes even bi-weekly).
Additionally, sticking to one meeting has helped us focus more since we have more to present to each catch up rather than sporadic ones throughout each week. It also forces you to present things that are valuable to the team rather than small tidbits that might not actually be that important. Most of these smaller conversations can be done through IRC and IM tools and even a quick call.
Additionally, use tools like Trello or Asana to keep your team accountable and top of what needs to be done. If you use all these tools successfully, you’re going to see less need for meetings.
The last thing you want, especially in an early startup, is burning out. As long as everyone’s accountable for their tasks, having fewer meetings can actually help the team's overall productivity.
I’ve personally found more improvement within our team’s productivity, but of course, this could be different case by case.
So if you have a small team — start asking questions
Sometimes you need to talk to your team openly to get them to address issues that they might not otherwise bring up. This doesn’t necessarily mean they’re shy, as sometimes it’s more of a fence-sitting moment.
For me, it was around our meetings which was funny since I openly criticized pointless meetings in the past. That being said, I want to reinforce that I don’t think every meeting is not needed — sometimes, you do need one or two.
These meetings are generally essential when you need multiple stakeholders in one room that requires a multi-structured agenda or just too complicated to talk about over message.
There are always opportunities where meetings will be helpful. However, the vast majority could be avoided with better usage of tools and resources out there.
With valuable time being spent on startups and side hustles out there, you should ask yourself if there is any value in a meeting you’re about to have.
If it can be done via applications or perhaps a quick call between one stakeholder, then maybe it’s time to cancel it.
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