If you want any perspective on life, you have to listen to this podcast immediately. All of it is great, but I am talking about the part from 41:39 to 48:22.
If you don't have time to listen then my summary is below, that surely will not do it justice, but here goes:
Remember that your time on this Earth is fleeting. Thinking about the history of human beings, if it was a 700-page book, you would only be alive for a sentence at most. This is the most exciting time to be alive and most people will not do anything that would make it into that book. There have been so many amazing shifts in technology and communication that it is very unlikely that you will make an impact big enough to hit the 700-page highlight reel of human history.
But you can still make an impact.
To your friends. To your parents. To your children. To your teachers. To your mentees. To your co-workers.
You do not have much time to be alive. Why must we waste any of it?. Each day is fleeting and we must make it our own.
Deadlines and rushing around. Why is it that we feel that adrenaline rush with the feeling of being busy? Where we can do all the things we have been meaning to do for weeks in the space of a few hours. Why is it that we let ourselves get distracted?
For me, I need constant reminders. Not of tasks to be done but of what is important.
In my morning affirmations I wrote, "...and I will put all of this ahead of work at my day job, or any other salaried job." When I wrote it, I realised that working for someone else, no matter how much money or how flexible they are, would not ultimately meet my goals.
It is very easy to get sucked in without this constant reminder. Sucked into the steady income. Sucked into the thrill of negotiating a raise. Sucked into the adrenaline feeling of all the tasks that need to be done in your current role. Sucked into the feeling of accomplishment when one is ticked off the list.
Until you realise that the steady income is never as risk-free as you think. Until you have lost half the raise through tax. Until you realise that none of this has moved you much further towards your ultimate goals and dreams and that you have been doing all this as an excuse.
An excuse away from starting that side project. An excuse away from making something. An excuse away from putting yourself out there.
You are very unlikely to get fired for being late. Work on your side hustle before starting your day-job.
No one really cares if you leave early and if they do are very unlikely to say something. Even if they do say something, they are very unlikely to fire you if you are producing results.
Focus on the 20% of tasks that produce 80% of the results and do these first. You will be producing more output than 80% of anyone else in the shorter time you are in the office.
No excuses. Even if you do get fired, at least you tried to make both work. And now you have been given the gift of focus.
No excuses. How many people do you know who got fired for their side hustle? None.
Ideally, when I did the website for our app launch I wanted to remind people they are going to die, but I didn't think this would be well received. Most people think that remembering death is morbid rather than liberating.
I have just bought two coins from dailystoic that have made a prominent place on my desk. Memento Mori, remembering that we are going to die, I find a great daily (and more frequent the reminder the better) to treat people better including myself. I need to treat each hour as every hour ticking away.
Do you really want to waste a precious human life sitting for an hour in a meeting that is going nowhere? That is no use to anyone involved?
What if it was your last hour alive? Well should it be any different to this hour, that all count towards death the same.
I read the following from Seneca today which puts it better than I could:
"But we to whom such corruptible bodies have been allotted, nevertheless set eternity before our eyes, and in our hopes grasp at the utmost space of time to which the life of man can be extended, satisfied with no income and with no influence. What can be more shameless or foolish than this? Nothing is enough for us, though we must die some day, or rather, are already dying; for we stand daily nearer the brink, and every hour of time thrusts us on towards the precipice over which we must fall. See how blind our minds are! What I speak of as in the future is happening at this minute, and a large portion of it has already happened; for it consists of our past lives. But we are mistaken in fearing the last day, seeing that each day, as it passes, counts just as much to the credit of death...
Discover how a $5 iPhone app is helping to combat the $37bn cost of unproductive meetings every year
MeeTime iOS app helps corporate employees get out of meeting hell
Staffordshire, UK – Jul 15, 2017 – Employees are wasting up to 2 years of their lives[ii] sitting in useless meetings and no wonder as three-quarters of people have never received any formal training on how to conduct a meeting[iii]. MeeTime was conceived as a simple way to help people run meetings more effectively. It is founded on the premise that you cannot control time, only decide what you want to do within it. It starts automatically and helps keep your meetings on track. MeeTime is already being used by employees in big organisations including Goldman Sachs, Rolls Royce, Nielsen, Hewlett Packard, DXC and Molson Coors, among others.
The advice to ‘start on time, stay on time, stick to the agenda and end on time’ is always in the top 5 ways to make meetings better[iv], but as Yogi Berra says, “in theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.” And staying on time is easier said than done. Especially if you are the one running the meeting, trying to keep time and taking notes. When things inevitably go awry, it can be an impossible mental arithmetic task to work out how to get back on track.
Gavin Jones, Founder and Managing Director said, “It is interesting to see people when they are in an internal corporate meeting. Everyone hates them, yet most are just resigned to the fact that they haveto be there. It seems like no one is linking the fact that if they take control and leave this meeting early, they can get home to their kids, go to the gym, work on their side hustle or, in fact, anything that they complain they do not have time for.” Jones used the time he saved in meetings to create MeeTime as a side hustle from his corporate job and wanted to help people remove their excuses to do the same.
MeeTime will start when the meeting is supposed to start. If you are behind, guess what? You're behind. However, MeeTime will help keep you on track with beautiful visuals showing how much time is left and who is on point for each section of the meeting. Plus, it is easier than ever to finish a meeting on time with MeeTime. Should things not go to plan, the “Auto time remaining” setting automatically apportions over/under-runs across the remainder of the agenda.
“This is a great, great idea and it has massive potential. I truly believe that this has got great potential to help a large number of people!” ~ Chris Bateman, Global Senior Manager, World Class Supply Chain, Molson Coors Europe.
“I think the visual aesthetics alone make it far easier to keep pace during a meeting instead of watching a clock. Great start for a new app!” ~ Carlye King, Project Manager, Revenue Management & Optimization, Nielsen.
"This is an awesome idea! I love this,” said Richmond Nash, Productivity Coach. “It is indispensable to have an app that breaks down the agenda of a meeting by each point and the time frame for each! I'm in a lot of meetings and this is going to be a go to app!!”
“Does exactly what it says on the tin. The interface during the meeting itself is easy to understand and has all the info that you need. I liked the congratulations summary, I could see how much time I’d saved for myself and others and it’s allowed me to talk of the benefits of meeting with me – we always achieve our objectives within the time allocated!” ~ Paul Rowe, Commercial Enterprise PMO Business Partner, Molson Coors International.
About MeeTime Ltd.
MeeTime Ltd. was founded in Feb 2016 by Gavin Jones. MeeTime was started to help people make better use of their time and started with a simple question, “what would you do with an extra hour per day?” The launch of MeeTime Ltd’s first app is to help corporate workers run meetings that stay on time and get people out of meeting hell.
Jones conceived of the idea whilst he had a job setting up a new integrated business planning process for senior executives and realising that it is hard for even the top level of management to run meetings effectively. He wanted the app for himself at the time and found that there was nothing on the market that does exactly what is needed, so he decided to create one for himself.
As Jones was in a full-time job he used tips from the 4-hour work week, Think and Grow Rich and The Miracle Morning, to free up time to outsource design and development to different time zones to allow him to project manage the business before and after his day-job.
Whilst MeeTime has been in development Jones lost his grandma and father, after a long battle with cancer, and his wife is due with their first child in August. All of which could have been excuses not to carry on but he wanted to start-up his own business to be a role model for his kids. “ I wanted to show them, not just tell them, that having multiple streams of income is not only smart but necessary as the economy and business world changes around us,” Jones said.
If only 2 or 3 people are meeting, it is not a meeting. You are just scheduling time for a chat. No need to go overboard with prep, but it might help if the person knows why you want to talk to them first - unless you just want to build a relationship. 1-on-1 should be used for building relationships, for feedback, for any difficult conversations or actions that you parked from a bigger meeting. If it were up to me, all meetings would be this kind. This is where the real work happens. This or a workshop, but the most successful workshops start with a few 2-3 people meetings anyhow.
If 4 or more people are meeting, you have yourself a proper meeting and you should sign-post it as such with an agenda. How strict you need to be on the agenda depends on which of the four types of meetings you are running:
“Doing the doing” when this happens to need a diverse group of people to make it happen. Make sure everyone there is needed and knows what they are talking about. “Hangers-on” can severely disrupt the flow and creativity of the rest. Cut people ruthlessly and manage with a smaller number than required. You can always take your findings to people outside the core group afterwards if needed. This kind of work usually benefits from large amounts of unstructured time, like a half or full day. You may want to break it down into a couple of chunks to make sure you are making progress, but don’t go overboard on the timings. Go with the flow.
Cancel this meeting if the person needing a decision has not shared why the decision is needed, the options and estimated consequences of each option, and their recommendation. If you are the person needing the decision, make sure you have spoken to the key people beforehand. Like House of Cards, never call a vote unless you are sure you are going to win. You need to know who is on-side or not so you can prep everyone else. This kind of meeting, when done well is just acting out what everyone already knows. Time it ruthlessly. Allow some time to go through each option (as anyone you have not spoken to will never have read a pre-read), some time for discussion, and then push for a decision when the time is up. If you can’t get the meeting to a decision, then you either have a bunch of people that use “more info” as an excuse or you have not done enough prep to show that a decision is really required and that it is needed now.
Relationship building / development on scale:
For example, team meetings or anything where the main aim is to get people working together. This is fine. Introduce some structure and timing to keep things on track, but be upfront that the point of this is to work together better or give people the safe space for development e.g. running a team meeting or presenting.
People not being aware of which type of meeting they are in. It can be okay to break a bigger meeting into parts that may cross the four types but avoid it where possible. The biggest source of frustration for attendees is confusion over what sort of meeting they were in. For example, you don’t want lots of discussion at a deliverables update; You don’t want people pushing to record actions in the middle of a workshop; You don’t want people trying to solve the world in a cascade; And you don’t want people telling their life story in a decision meeting.
Similarly, no one likes a time-Nazi if the group is just about to get the result they are after and someone cuts them off for the sake of a couple of minutes. Let it run over and then readjust. The key is to be able to do this quickly and have structured your meeting so you can run over. E.g. don’t ask for a decision right at the end when everyone needs to leave for another meeting. The decision should be made 10mins before the end. Buffer it with AOB if needed.
You can do all this with a clock, but seeing the time tick down and communicating this will increase the effectiveness of your meetings massively. Having the ability to proportion delays across the rest of your agenda instantly, so you always have a plan to finish on time is something your co-workers will be eternally grateful for. Okay maybe not, but they might buy you a coffee. MeeTime does all these things and for less than the price of a clock. Google Ventures uses a time timer at $25-£50 dollars. For a tenth of the price, you can have something more sophisticated always available in your pocket. Shameless plug over. Get MeeTime.
Why do meetings start on the hour? And last an hour? Because someone at Microsoft made the calendar default that way when Office was ubiquitous and no one has ever changed it.
The problem is that other people's meetings finish on the hour. You cannot be in the meeting room at the exact time that someone else finishes. So, there is a very high chance that you are going to start late. Others have back-to-back meetings all day even if you are conscientious enough to avoid them.
Why not start at 2mins past, 5mins past or 10mins past? People might actually turn up early thinking it starts on the hour. You might actually be set up to start on time.
Similarly, why finish on the hour. Knowing that your colleagues do not have the time management skills that you do, help them out by finishing at 5mins or 10mins to the hour so they can get to their next meeting. Anything you need an hour for can be done in 30-45mins anyway.
Give someone the gift of time. Make your meetings that ones that start and finish on time. Schedule.
You plan your workouts. You plan what you are going to watch on Netflix. You plan where you want to go on holiday for 10 days of the year.
You don’t plan your daily “why is someone making me sit through this” meetings. You don’t plan your “if only I had more time I would start” side hustle. You don’t plan your “if only…x I could have y” life that you want.
You are planning. Just the wrong things. Do the opposite for a week and see where you get to.
Three’s a crowd,
Four, or more, is either a shit-storm or a successful meeting. And you get to decide which.
Less than four people do not need much structure. It is more of a chat. Once you get to four or more, that's when time stretches.
Cut. Prepare. Run. Repeat.
Cut the number of attendees. Everyone does not need a say. Be bold. Someone will be upset whatever decision is made.
Prepare the agenda and make sure everyone else has prepared.
Run the meeting to time. Be mindful that this is not the work. The meeting is organising the work. Get back to work as soon as possible.
Repeat. As infrequently as possible.
People want more. More money, more people, more time.
Corporate life consists of people who throw more people at a problem. Mostly without realising this can make things worse. Or alternatively, this mindset can be complicit in promoting activities that do not need doing in the first place.
More money. Buying TV ads that no one watches because we did it last year and we need to do something otherwise what are we getting paid for?
More time. Consistently insisting on ever increasing meeting lengths rather than looking to cut out the unnecessary peacocking of Dave the over confident and uninformed account manager or the dithering of Deborah the delayer of decisions.
More time needed leads to more people needed. More people needed leads to more fixed cost. More fixed cost leads to more reliance on hitting forecast.
Things are not always good - you can do more than you think with less. But when you try to do less with more, that’s when the "restructuring" and the layoffs begin.
Unfortunately, like a government bailout or the collapse of a public service, it is those that made the organisation fragile in the first place the ones that usually escape unharmed.
You are not employed to only get results in perfect circumstances. Cut the unnecessary and do more with what you already have.
It's cheaper to shop at Aldi.
It's cheaper for someone to shop at Aldi, but is it cheaper for you to shop at Aldi?
Most people never cost in their own time into any decision. If you enjoy going to Aldi or if it gives you time to bond with your kids or your partner, then great. But if you hate it, is it really cheaper. if it's a chore, then why not go somewhere better organised, where you can get everything you need, that is quicker?
Why not get your shopping delivered? Because it costs more?
Say it costs £50 to do a shop at Morrisons and £30 to do a shop at Aldi. Then say it takes an hour at Aldi because you can't find anything, you can't get everything and have to go somewhere else. This takes, say, another 1/2 hour and it only takes 20 mins at Morrisons.
You do not have to value your time very highly to get that it is cheaper not to go to Aldi.
And it should be way more obvious as time is the thing you cannot get back.