After almost two decades in the public sector I can say from experience that meetings are a waste of time. Development days, staff meetings, or any kind of meeting that might be on the agenda will never be effective. I think their aim is to prove that something was done. In legal terms, it leaves a trail that people were told what to do, they were asked what to do, they should know better, when they don’t do what they should.
Most of what occurs during meetings could be summarized in a very short memo. Precise words could be used to identify what needs to be done, and the rest of the time could be spent handling concerns and questions from those who don’t understand or have a problem with the directions. This would be fruitful, time effective, and most importantly it would not be a gigantic waste of time.
And that’s the point our goal and mission in our private and professional lives should be to redeem time. To waste as little of it as possible. Our energy should be spent doing what needs to be done so that we can direct all of the other time towards our family and friends and our dreams.
It would be naive to think that the corporate or public sectors are going to change. They are a machine like beast which feeds upon uselessness and grows bigger and bigger with new initiative. It’s a monster that grew out of the industrial age. It’s a beast that arose as the workers fought the industrial owners. And so it is impossible to wage war against the beast, like Don Quixote against the windmills. It is better instead to minimize the beasts impact and to disobey as much as possible and redeem our precious time.
Always sit in the back of the meeting and always have something to do. Get a Kindle or a Kobo or install the apps on your phone and be ready to read some good literature of development books at a moments notice. Learn to mediate and drown out the noise of production less, time wasting meetings. Write down some things you need to get done. Don’t go down without a fight. Do whatever is necessary. Remember that you will not win, but you can be a little further ahead and feel a bit better, as the lone voice fighting a good fight in the wilderness.
Whatever you do, don’t put your hands up in the air and resign that this is just how things are. You underestimate the human spirit, and you undervalue your own creativity. Once you identify the time wasters in your life, you can turn on them, and redeem some of the time, so your can dispose with it elsewhere.
Two decades in the pubic sector as a teacher is a long time. I take great pride and joy teaching students, but I abhor the institution and procedures which while run by good people, harm and beat down the enthusiasm of everyone involved.
Death to staff meetings. Death to waste of time. Death to needless paperwork and circular meetings.
It’s time for freedom. No matter how small and insignificant it may seem.
Cover photo generously provided by photographer Rawpixel via unsplash.com