The scourge of status update meetings

August 29, 2021

A friend recently told me what her work days were like now that she was working for a different team in her company.

Her daily schedule looked something like this:

  • 09:30 - Update meeting with entire team
  • 10:00 - Update meeting with smaller team
  • 11:00 - Meeting to discuss the day’s specific work task
  • 13:00 - Update meeting about the morning’s work progress
  • 16:30 - End-of-day catchup meeting

When, after a few weeks of meeting hell, she politely suggested to her boss that she might skip an afternoon meeting so she could actually do her work rather than talking about it, he got offended. “I’m not comfortable with that”, he said, and proceeded to scold her for showing some independence.

Needless to say, my friend quit that job, and I’m proud of her for doing so. It can be risky and scary to quit your job when you don’t have another job lined up or a successful side hustle, but she did it anyway.

If your work life is also meeting hell, you’re not crazy for wanting fewer meetings. You’re right for wanting space to do your work. Even if everybody else in the team seems to accept hours of Zoom meetings a day—as was the case for my friend—it’s still nuts.

Look, you only live once. Don’t surrender half your waking hours to useless meetings. Insist on working with people who trust you and who give you the space to do your job. Raise your standards.

Start by refusing to attend status update meetings and see what happens.

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