Busy Calendar

I wrote about “the game” the other day. This essay is a tangential continuation of those thoughts. It questions the purpose behind busy-ness and makes the case that the calendar is false comfort. 

Is a busy calendar the goal? Most would say no…but then look at your calendar and count out the number of questionable meetings. One could argue that meetings are the “biggest cost” for a company, especially a growing startup, where hard, deep work is required. But ignoring startups…how much time is wasted in the office for some egotistical manager to spend talking about themselves in front of her/his team?

My question is do employees care?

I generally have the blanket assumption that *most people* want purpose out of their job. They want to feel important. They want to feel like they are contributing to a cause. And they want the cause to matter.

The job of the company – the management – is to build a religion around that cause. Their job is to convince their employees that what they do matters.

This is an overly existential view – some work does matter. But taking a step back..what really does matter? Does marketing software matter? Does social media matter? Whatever, we can debate that for days and I am not saying one way or the other. The point being…most work is fairly replaceable.

Meetings seem purposeful. Meetings seem important. Meetings seem productive.

BUT THEY ARE NOT! (in most cases).

That is the catch.

Most meetings are a waste of every attendee’s time.

Most meetings are breaks.

Now I think there can be very positive, helpful meetings. I will double down on this – I think you can be a great leader and really get a ton out of a meeting for everyone involved. I am a big believer in having good meetings.

Meetings are not the place to talk about yourself, or pontificate on ideas. 

But “deep work” – at your desk – is where real productivity occurs. Yet, in most of America, we have eager to have purpose people waiting…waiting for meetings. Waiting for calendar invites. Waiting for syncs and jams and huddles.

Let’s stop with all of that nonsense. 

But would we be happy with less “purpose?” Less meetings? Less time booked for the week?

If you stare at your calendar right now, how much white space do you have?

I know I feel relief looking at my schedule planned out. It is the emptiness that scares me. It is the big gaps of time…what am I going to do? What am I going to work on? Where is my purpose going to go? Am I lost?

Those gaps are what scare people. They may not be physical – like on my calendar – but everyone has some sort of chart in their head.

We get it. You are busy. 

But why are you busy? What are you hiding from?

Is the goal to be busy? What does busy get you? Does busy get you happiness? Purpose? Maybe…but productivity? 

Also published on Medium.