Reminder alert: Another meeting in 5 minutes

“Staff Meeting” by ljguitar is licensed under CC BY

If you’ve ever worked in any kind of software project, you’ve experienced meetings. Depending on the size of the project or the place you’ve worked in, you may have experienced the useless meetings that are only consuming programming time. 

In college, I usually have some meetings with my teammates about projects, but they are usually really straight forward and to separate tasks.

But during my internships at Facebook, I had my scheduled full of meetings! It was a nightmare sometimes. I was just getting into the flow, I was just getting into the flow, finally solving this complex thing, until a new notification appears on my screen corner.

Why having meetings?

Meetings are important. At the beginning of the lifecycle of the project, it helps to define the project, divide tasks, and decide what is needed and what may be implemented in the next iteration.

As the project continues, meetings are the easiest and most personal way to sync up, know what everyone is working on, chat with your team about what is needed, and all that stuff.

Meetings are the way to communicate face to face (well in these times face to computer to face) with people, where you can freely talk about the project and sometimes a bit about yourself (for example with your manager, recruiter or some more personal meetings)


“Sigh, Meetings” by cogdogblog is licensed under CC BY

Yeah, all this sounds fine, but you may differ a little when you get to experience it.

When your schedule is cluttered with them, and you know you’re behind your work, and your schedule is full for the day, it is really frustrating. You try to make the most of your time, but those damn meetings!

How to deal with it?

At Facebook, we even have “No meetings Wednesday” (that unofficially was work from home Wednesday). This rule was made because this simple reason, programmers didn’t have time to program, so it was required for managers to keep Wednesdays free for everyone to do their work (and this was an opportunity to work from home because you didn’t have to attend meetings).

Also, something important to know is that sometimes not all meetings are important or even a priority, is valid to skip one from time to time if you feel like you need it, just make sure the required person knows you’re missing.

Managers need to make sure that your people know if it’s important to go to the meeting, or they can simply skip it because people think it is essential until they are halfway into the meeting and notice they were not really required. A way of doing this (if possible) is to do an agenda and share it with the rest of the team.

Make use of technology to improve the experience. Maybe a daily stand up is not really needed if you have everyone posting their achievements of the day and what they want to do for the next at the end of the day. This way, at the beginning of my routine, I will look through all the posts and save a meeting.

COVID-19 Era

With everything that is happening, all has changed so quickly. All that I have written above is part of my experience from last summer. I know that right now, people are more aware of the importance of meetings, as well as the importance of reducing them.

Teams are looking for ways to improve communication, but at the same time, being mindful that everyone is experiencing this pandemic in their own way, in their own times.

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