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The Fake Meeting

People often complain about having too many meetings. And they have good reason to. Take one look at the typical Outlook calendar and it’s usually packed 9-5 Monday through Friday.

Meetings are a necessary tool in business. There’s no way around the fact that collaboration is essential to success in most situations. But when all you do is meet – even if the meetings are great – how do you find any time to actually get anything done, to think? That’s the point right?

The answer is to schedule a meeting with yourself. Just you. No one else.

Don’t be naive. The “free time” you have in between meetings is often a mirage. Those gaps fill up fast due to new meetings or a meeting that run long, forcing you to play catch up on minor (but urgent or easy) tasks in the few spare moments you have rather than tackle more important priorities. Instead, schedule fake meetings with yourself where appropriate, complete with title and location as a placeholder to produce. The busier the schedule, the more useful the fake meeting becomes.

When you schedule your fake meeting it’s a good idea to set the status as tentative (or use some other flag) so you can distinguish it from “real” meetings with colleagues. This helps give you an accurate sense of your schedule’s flexibility when coordinating calendars.

Now the disclaimer: If a colleague requests a meeting when you have a fake meeting scheduled, you should accept. Don’t abuse the fake meeting. Be honest with your colleagues when you can meet. When you absolutely have to put your head down and work, don’t hide behind a fake meeting. Be up front about your schedule and they will understand.

Enjoy! Now I have to run to a meeting…with myself.

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