It’s been said that the Inuit people have something between 50 and 100 words for ‘snow.’ I think I might have at least that many ways to describe the mental-chaos of my day yesterday.
My day started early, as my days usually do. I was hoping, getting in early, that I’d have the time to do some of the things I relish doing—that is, actually write.
I was given a jumble of briefing documents and asked to write from that paper-cacophony two 250-word-stories about particular business cases.
I love doing things like that—to take something fairly chaotic and unfocused and bring some order to it. I knocked out the first of the two cases in short order.
I had a moment—this was still before any of my co-workers had arrived—and even had time to re-read and nip and tuck what I had written.
Then, the meetings began.
One after another after another after another. Along the way I picked up two or three other little warheads of copy that had to be written on such-and-such a deadline, or re-written because some lawyer somewhere was worried about something.
Each of these “to-do’s” was probably an hour’s worth of work. But since work today is meetingicide (death by meetings) it took me about four hours to find an hour’s worth of concentration--in three or four minute spasms of isolated time while others are chit-chatting.
The meetings ended finally around 7:30PM. About 12-hours after my day started.
About once a week I say to a group of people, “You know the funny thing about our lives is that before Microsoft Meeting Maker, we didn’t have meetings. I’d been working maybe 20 years before I got a daily calendar assigning me to windowless rooms for an hour of this or half-an-hour of that. Today, we make so many meetings because making meetings is so easy.”
I say this and whomever is listening considers my blasphemy for a moment, and then they go back to what they should be doing—which is not listening to me. Rather it’s wondering what meeting they have next.
About ten years ago when I was a big wig and the lead creative at an enormous and insipid agency, I tried to institute a policy of having one-day-a-week meeting-free.
People looked at me—from low wage account people, to corner-office MBAs with more education than sense—like I was like Kakfa’s Gregor Samsa, as if I went to sleep one night and woke up the next day as a meeting-cancelling giant cockroach.
That’s all for now.
I have to run to a meeting.