Why I Choose Not To Do Scheduled Meetings

In the fast-paced world of business, meetings are often viewed as the backbone of collaboration and decision-making.

However, after considerable reflection and experience, I have adopted a different approach: I choose not to engage in scheduled meetings. This post is an explanation of that choice, shared with the intent to offer insight, not to criticize differing methods.

The Hidden Cost of Meetings

Psychological Load

  • Anticipation Anxiety: Each scheduled meeting, no matter how brief or well-intentioned, occupies mental space. This preoccupation detracts from my ability to delve into complex, meaningful work that requires undivided attention.
  • Task Switching: Knowing that a meeting is impending often leads me to pick tasks that require less cognitive engagement. This shift away from deep, impactful work has a subtle yet profound effect on productivity.
  • Cognitive Fragmentation: The looming presence of a scheduled meeting fragments my day. Regular glances at the clock disrupt focus, leading to a workday punctuated by anticipation rather than characterized by flow.

Productivity Impact

  • Opportunity Cost: The time before and after meetings is often less productive. In roles where innovation and strategic thinking are paramount, this lost time is not just minutes on a clock; it's lost potential.
  • Delayed Decision-Making: Meetings can inadvertently become bottlenecks. The wait for a scheduled discussion delays decisions that could have been made asynchronously, slowing down the momentum of projects.
  • Post-Meeting Recovery: The shift back to high-concentration tasks after a meeting is not immediate. This transition period is an additional, often overlooked cost.

Travel Lifestyle

I'm on the road a lot – actually, more than half of my day is spent traveling. Whether I'm on a plane, in an Uber, or driving, it's a big part of my routine. This lifestyle does make it tricky to commit to specific times, and impossible to do video meetings. 

My Approach to Work and Collaboration

My preference leans heavily towards deep, uninterrupted work periods. This approach aligns seamlessly with my responsibilities in scaling businesses and building effective operational systems. I find asynchronous communication - detailed emails, comprehensive project management tools, and thoughtful memos - far more conducive to my productivity style.

Alternatives to Scheduled Meetings

In place of traditional meetings, I utilize written communication and collaborative platforms. This method has not only been effective but also efficient. It allows for thoughtful responses, well-considered ideas, and a written record of decisions and discussions. Crucially, it respects the time and focus of all involved.

How I Prefer to Work

  1. Start Asynchronously Over Email:
    1. For Decision Making: If you need a decision from me, please outline the decision, potential options, your preferred choice, the main points supporting your choice, and risks associated with all options.
    2. For Sharing Information: Preferably, share information through PDFs, slides, or a brief Loom video.
    3. For Getting Advice: Share over written communication your desired goals, sticking points and questions, and specific points you like covered in a response. 
  2. My Response: After reviewing your email, I will respond with any follow-up questions or a decision.
  3. Scheduling a Meeting if Necessary: If a meeting is truly required, I will explain why a discussion is needed. I ask for an agenda in advance, including specific points to cover and desired outcomes that justify the need for a meeting.

My preference is for unscheduled phone calls during blocks of time. In this way, I can lose track of time, focus on work, and still make the call when I am done. It also allows for impromptu calls to me I can pick up if available or ignore if I am busy. It allows for a much more unstructured and flexible communication structure.

If a meeting is required, given my travel schedule, I've found that having a flexible window to reach out via phone works best for me, considering how my days are usually structured.

Establishing a Productive Work Culture

I advocate for a shift in perspective: viewing meetings not as the default mode of collaboration but as a last resort.

Respecting individual work styles is vital in a diverse professional landscape. While my approach may not suit everyone, it's a system that has significantly enhanced my productivity and focus. I invite you to reflect on how scheduled meetings impact your productivity and consider whether a different approach might be more effective for you.


The Blueprint Newsletter

Sharing the operating partner's playbook for business owners.