Are Meetings Meant to be Productive?

I’m not completely anti-meeting. That’s an important point to get across—I don’t hate meetings as much as people who play meeting bingo and constantly look for signs that the meeting could’ve been an email. In pre-Zoom times, I even enjoyed meetings. I love a good conference room, and, more importantly, the opportunity to get up from my desk/workspace and migrate to a different area. I’m even a fan of the awkward small talk and mingling that occurs before and after, as people who virtually only see each other during meetings are forced to interact. It’s fun to take in.

I hate Zoom meetings though. When all classes were in person, I could go to four in a row and never feel bored or tired. The constant stimulation was good for me—absorb information for an hour, speed walk for ten minutes, absorb different information, and so on. Now, meetings are different. They feel more monotonous, even when the meeting in question is a class that speeds through the material. They’re long too, and all attempts at facilitating social interaction fall a little flat. 

Woman sitting on bed with laptop and books Photo by Windows from Unsplash For me, however, meetings are incredibly productive. Once I’ve given my updates, or even as I’m waiting to talk, the limbo space is so conducive to checking things off of my to-do list. Everything from starting papers to taking ten seconds to Google something feels manageable when I’m executing them in a meeting where I am, at more times than not, an inactive participant. 

It’s kinda like that joke about procrastinating—when you’re putting off a project, you get really invested in other tasks, like cleaning, for instance. That’s the key to productivity; when you’re procrastinating on one thing, you’re making progress on another. When I’m sitting through an hour-long meeting and only ten percent of the information actually applies to me, I am incredibly productive at completing non-meeting, usually completely unrelated, deliverables. 

overhead shot of a desk with someone writing in a notebook and on a video call on a computer Photo by Julia M Cameron from Pexels It’s important to note that this might be effective only in meetings/parts of meetings where your full attention isn’t required. For one of my clubs, for instance, our weekly meetings are project check-ins, but all of our projects are so separate and distinct that one doesn’t affect the other. So, in that case, after the five or so minutes when I give my updates, the rest of the hour is prime time for me to crank out discussion posts or work on problem sets. 

Next time you’re bored in a meeting and looking for something to do, try maximizing your time like this! Be conscious of your surroundings though—don’t zone out when you shouldn’t. In some of my meetings, other participants leave the Zoom the second they’ve given their update, but sometimes it helps boost productivity levels when you stay and see a bunch of squares of productive-looking people. Happy Zooming!

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