Alexis Monville (en)

scrabble resolutions

Resolution for the Exhausted

What seemed to be a long time ago, I started my first post of the year by telling you that I opened a Gym Club in January and told you what happened to that club in February.

More important, you will find in the post mentioned above suggestion to keep up with your resolutions.

The last mentoring conversations I had inspired me for that post. In several of them, I believe nearly all of them, people mentioned how tired they were.

In one of the conversations, we went deeper to understand the root causes, and the strategies to put in place to install a sustainable pace for the teams.

I am a big fan of speedy meetings. It is an option to schedule 25 minutes meeting instead of 30 minutes, or 50 minutes instead of 1 hour. I intended never to schedule back-to-back meetings so that I can have a break in between them.

My plan was to use the break either as a real break from the day with a short meditation for example.

Sometimes I felt it was better to use the break to immediately capture and share the action items so that other people will not be blocked waiting for me.

Unfortunately, it does not completely work. I am even tempted to say: “It failed miserably.” The break time is too often used by the previous meeting that runs over, making it challenging to arrive on time for the next meeting. Reading this, you can observe that I am not flexible with time. Read more about that in The Culture Map post.

The consequence of running over is endless back-to-back meetings. More context switching. More pending small tasks accumulating (the ones that I sometimes forget at the end of the day to remember them in the middle of the night). No physical and mental breaks. This impairs the ability even to be oneself, to behave, think, live properly.

In addition to that, as nobody works in an office, there is no water cooler break anymore, no social conversation, no simple ideas sharing or bouncing outside of the context of a formal meeting.

Sounds damning, right?

One of my mentees found what I think is a perfect tactic during an open space retreat with his team. They want to focus their meeting on one topic. They schedule one hour for the topic on their calendar. But their team agreement or social contract is:

  • The first five meetings are for social conversation,
  • The next twenty minutes are for collaborating on the topic,
  • The next twenty minutes are for focused time on the followups of that conversation,
  • The last fifteen minutes are for a break.

Attentive readers could point out that nothing prevents the twenty-minute discussion from running over and consuming the whole time. It is obviously true. Nothing but the team member themselves. They defined the solution, updated their team agreements, and are now in charge of the implementation.

When I adopted speedy meetings, I wished people would adjust to the unusual timing and follow my lead.

When as a team:

  • people agree on how to create, review and improve their OKRs,
  • people agree on how to structure the time of their meeting,
  • people agree to limit their work in progress so that they limit context switching,
  • people agree to ask for a clear purpose, clear agenda, and get to a clear understanding of what their contribution is expected to be, before accepting a meeting invite,
  • people agree to call out each other when they break the social contract or team agreement,
  • and other aspects they will identify as key to install a sustainable pace.

They can have a big impact.

So maybe a good resolution could be to create or update your team agreement or social contract and have one of your OKRs focused on getting to a sustainable pace even in the challenging conditions we currently face.

With all my best wishes.