May 31, 2024

📆 Meetings you hate,
and how to avoid them

Hey there—

Everywhere you look, people are ranting about meetings — hours of your life you won’t get back, no time to get RealWork™️ done, videoconference fatigue… But just saying you hate them won’t make them go away. Here are three common meetings you hate, and how to avoid them:

The Team Update

Usually held weekly, the agenda is always the same. You go around the room (or, “around the horn” if your boss think’s they’re a former ship’s captain), and tell everyone what you’ve been working on. The trickiest part of this is how long you ramble on. Less than a minute, and the boss thinks you’ve been slacking. More than three minutes and your team will accuse you of brown-nosing and standing between them and lunch.

How to avoid it: Start writing, and reading. A shared document (or a weekly check-in, in Basecamp 😉), will take care of this nicely as long as you follow the two important steps. Step one, you have to write one. Step two, read what others have written. Andrea, our head of people, wrote a great post, reminding us what a good check-in looks like.

The Planning Meeting

You could have anywhere from six to 600 people in this one, but either way, don’t let the number of people fool you. There’s no work happening here. This is the meeting about the work. There’s a slide deck that someone will read page by page, verbatim, including, the timeline for for the gantt chart, the most recent update, and the schedule of future update meetings and pre-meeting updates.

How to avoid it: Make a project with everything people need to see and know about it. When people ask you questions about the timeline, point them to the project. When someone is looking for the file for the thing, point them to the project. When someone sends you a meeting request… you get the idea.

This Could Have Been an Email

A close cousin to the Planning Meeting, this meeting could have been summed up in a 2-line email, but instead it’s a 27-minute meeting. But you should be grateful, because the ended it early and the organizer “gave you 3 minutes back.”

How to avoid it: Was it even worth an email? Or was it just a thought you could have kept to yourself? Just kidding. Start a new trend, write a quick note, and be done with it. Express your gratitude by reading the notes that others send to you.


In the meantime, here are a few things you might have missed…

Thoughts We’ve Shared

Paranoia and desperation in the AI gold rush

I’ve never seen so much paranoia in technology about missing out on The Next Big Thing as with AI. Companies seem less excited about the prospects than they are petrified that its going to kill them. Maybe that fear is justified, maybe it’s not, but what’s incontestable is the kind of desperation it’s leading to. — David Heinemeier Hansson

The subtle art of staying out of it

On the REWORK Podcast, we talk about the importance of stepping out of the day-to-day operations as a founder. Giving employees room to call the shots can spark new ideas and get things done faster. It also inspires people to think beyond just following orders.

Things We’re Excited About

You just went viral, now what?

At 37signals, we recently had a video pop off. It was exciting to witness people respond so positively to something that I was proud of. We didn’t work too hard on it, it just sorta happened because we were having fun. As the video climbed in views, shares, and compliments from strangers, I noticed myself getting high on my own supply. Checking LinkedIn, X, and TikTok every hour for another hit. Letting it all go to my head. — Chad Neidt

The next ONCE product…

Did you catch the announcement? It won’t be long now til you can get your very own copy of Writebook — for free!

Until next time,
Elaine, COO of 37signals

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