At work, we’ve started a big, important project. Teams are executing while we’re still planning the middle and end of it. It’s packed my days with meetings. Is it just me, or are Zoom meetings more draining than meeting in person? I go from one Zoom meeting to another from 9 to 5:30, except for lunch because I decline lunch meetings. I need to eat and have a little down time.
Meanwhile email keeps arriving, and I’m absolutely bombarded with messages on Slack. Because I know I don’t have the discipline to not respond to incoming messages during meetings, it’s my habit when I’m in the office to leave my laptop at my desk. It lets me be present and pay attention in the meeting. I’m usually the only person in the room without a laptop. But on Zoom, the meeting is on the computer. And because my schedule is so heavily packed right now, if I don’t respond during meetings I’ll work late every night catching up on messages. No thanks.
I was Friday tired at the end of Wednesday this week. I hit the wall Thursday afternoon. I declined my 3:30 and 4 pm meetings and unplugged from everything for 90 minutes. I resurfaced for the 5 pm management huddle, which is just a time for us to check in on how we’re all doing. I went first, describing what I’m experiencing. Then I said it: this is intense and I can’t sustain it.
The room was silent for a minute, and someone changed the subject. We talked about three or four other things. Then the VP who was leading the meeting said, “I want to go back to what Jim said. I’m experiencing the same thing. Like Jim I don’t take my computer to meetings either so I can be present and focus, but now I can’t get away from the computer. Is anybody else handling this better?”
A few people had suggestions. I even made one, one that I came up with during the meeting: I’m going to block time in the morning and afternoon on my calendar and decline any future meeting requests that happen then. I’ll shut down Slack and email while I’m in my meetings and open it when I’m not, because I will have guaranteed time to respond to messages.
Will this work? Probably. But it might have some negative effects I can’t see right now. I’ll try it and see, and keep adapting from there. And I’ll liberally steal other peoples’ good ideas that work for them, and see if they work for me.