On BioScience and Life and Such

Project: Distilling efficiency out of useless meetings

In Uncategorized on November 24, 2008 at 8:53 pm

Sick and tired of inefficient unnecessary meetings, I am trying to figure out how to (di)s(e)cretely minimize time-waste. This post is the beginning of a project which hopefully will result in less frustration. The final goal is that when a meeting turns boring, I’ll be happy.

Project aim

A comprehensive collection of discrete activities in meetings where:

a) Things you already know are being presented

b) Things that are irrelevant are being presented or discussed

c) Some idiot terrorizes the meeting with idiot-questions, and the speaker feels compelled to respond.

Inclusion criteria

Activities that the other meeting attendees (and the speaker) will not notice.

Exclusion criteria

1) Bringing a laptop could be the ideal solution, but not an option (in smaller meetings a handheld is a possible electronic substitute):


2) Activities solely for entertainment purposes.

Activities to be tested (first draft):

1. Lists, ideas

Method: Bring a blank piece of paper and a pencil/pen.

a) Make list of thoughts and ideas (work/career related).

b) Make to do lists for work projects or shopping (daily groceries, vacation trips, refurbishing project).

Comment: Approach been tested for a while, but not systematically. Risk of exposure seems to be low.  Systematic testing will have to include quality control of random thoughts and lists. Also need to design experiment to test the feasibility of working on the same lists in consecutive meetings.

2. Discrete physical exercise

Method: limb/whole body movement either unaided or with the help of various objects.

a) Muscle flexing and stretching. Possible muscle groups include upper and lower arms, legs, abs and pecs. Facial muscles not recommended until visibility measurements (see below) are concluded upon.

Comment: Flexing while involved in other activities was as far as I can remember first proposed by the great Jean-Claude van Damme on the Tonight show some 15 years back. Need to validate physical benefit. Also, need to measure visibility of activity, -specific parameters: “over the table” and “under the table”.

b) Balance training. Sitting down – mostly arms and hands. Standing up – in theory any limb.

Comment: Sitting down – i) no object: place both hands palm down between upper part of thighs and chair. Extend arms until thighs are suspended and balance for as long as possible. Repeat and record suspension period. ii) With object: balance any object at hand – pencil, coffee cup, biscuits, cake, pastry – start with palm of hand (palm up, down, sideways – combinations) , then all fingers, then 4 fingers, then three and so on. Time your balancing skills and record them. Note: payoff unknown, exposure risk – high.

c) Visual training. Detail perception exercises ? To be updated.

d) Meditation. Eyes open, mantra, silent, To be updated.

Further reading and resources on the topic:

Bullshit Bingo, Solutions similar to mine, A top 20 list, ….

Project description to be continuously updated. External input most welcome.

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