Meeting Mediation: Makers and Managers

This post was originally posted on Clubhaus, Block Club's blog of inspiration.

Years ago, at a previous job, I was part of an editorial team of writers and producers at a major media company. My colleagues and I became increasingly frustrated by the number of recurring meetings that continued to interrupt our work days. It’s not that the nature of these meetings were flawed, but their execution surely was. They were held daily, weekly and bi-monthly as a way for those on the team who did not regularly interact to touch base and share notes, but generally served as an hour-long interruption into the workday.

Curious about the effectiveness (and ineffectiveness) of recurring meetings and their link to actual productivity I came to discover a fantastic essay by Paul Graham titled “Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule.” In short, Graham identifies that there are two types of workers/schedules: Makers who view the workday as two half-day blocks (before lunch/after lunch) and Managers who view their workday in one-hour meeting blocks. 

If you’re someone who operates on the Manager’s Schedule, planning a day’s work can be easy. Everything is blocked off an hour at a time. No more blocks = no more availability. If you’re on a Maker’s Schedule (say a writer, designer or programmer) these one-hour interruptions can ruin your workflow, causing you to delay starting on a project because of an anticipated stopping point ahead.

Personally, I live somewhere between a Manager’s and Maker’s schedule. As a brand manager I facilitate many meetings throughout the day, but also need chunks of time to do my own work. I juggle the responsibility of scheduling meetings that fit into the blocked-off days of clients and powers-that-be without being completely disruptive to the creative team whose work is derailed by shifting from project to project.

Here are a few strategies that I employ when scheduling meetings:

Piggyback on other meetings

Booking back-to-back meetings may elicit some groans from the team, but I find that to be the least disruptive method for scheduling. Plus, if the same people can attend both meetings they are already in “meeting mode” which can help things move along more quickly. Fight the instinct to give the team a “break” between, because having an hour or less before another meeting is not enough time to cross much off a to-do list.

Save open time windows for working

It’s tempting to drop a meeting into a wide open afternoon, but the makers on the team would surely love some individual time to work on their projects. Of course it’s important to make sure all of the meetings don’t stack up too high, but I’ll always seek out a chance to preserve a big window of time for the team to work.

Book longer meetings than necessary

Again, this another tactic that may get pushback from the team, but I like to always schedule a meeting for the worst case scenario of meeting length. It works for two reasons; if the meeting runs long it won’t run into the next calendar event, and if the meeting run short you are essentially giving the team some unplanned free time. Win/win.

So, now that you’ve scheduled your meetings how do you make sure they are run effectively? That’s another topic for another post. Stay tuned!

This post was originally posted on Clubhaus, Block Club's blog of inspiration.