The true cost of meetings

Josh Sherman
1 min read

Meetings suck. It’s a pretty universal sentiment across many companies and industries. “Meetings are toxic” is the war cry of the “Getting Real” generation.

It’s not just the time it takes to attend the meeting. It’s the prep time. The time it takes you to get to the meeting. The time it takes you to get back from the meeting, which in an office environment could take upwards of an additional hour depending on how many “stop and chats” you have. It’s also the time lost because you had to stop what you were doing and the time it takes to get your head back into the game.

I was reminded of an equation that a buddy of mine used to use the other day. It only factors in the time of the meeting and the number of people attending said meeting. Let’s use a meeting with eight developers as an example.

8 developers * 1 hour meeting = 8 hours of lost development time

An entire fucking day lost. How many times does your team ship code to production in a day? Well you just lost all of that this week because of a single one hour meeting. Probably more, if you factor in everything else.

It’s the equation I use when I have to attend meetings and something I try to be mindful of on the rare occasion I need to schedule something. Does everybody need to be there? Does anybody need to be there? Can you get to where you’re going with a few brief asynchronous conversations via Slack (or your chat service of choice)?

Next time you get a meeting invite, extrapolate out how much potentially productive time is actually going to be lost. Think about what could actually be accomplished in that time, whether it be development, or marketing or whatever.

Above all, don’t hesitate to ask questions and/or excuse yourself from the meeting so that you can keep on shipping.

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About Josh

Husband. Father. Pug dad. Musician. Founder of Holiday API, Head of Engineering and Emoji Specialist at Mailshake, and author of the best damn Lorem Ipsum Library for PHP.

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