1 min read

Understand the true cost of a meeting.

The meeting: that little, innocent block on your calendar.

It looks like no big deal. After all, it's just 30 minutes. How bad can it be?

That's what we tell ourselves, and once we realize we have four meetings to attend today, each being 30 minutes long.

No big deal we think. They're short and easy to deal with.

The day ends, and we're exhausted. How did this happen, we wonder.

Well, that's because of the psychological cost of the meeting.

There was plenty of research done on this topic. And the results paint a staggering picture.

The Psychological Cost

One study found that after a meeting we need 23 minutes to regain our focus on a single task. 23 minutes! That's a lot of time. For every 30 minute meeting, we're basically spending sacrificing one hour of our time. In the example above, that's half of our working time.

No wonder you feel exhausted. Your brain has to constantly shift gears from context to context to get back on track and actually do some deep work.

And it's not just that. We also have to account for the financial cost of a meeting.

The Financial Cost

A knowledge-based organization produces value when their workers actually apply that knowledge and use their creativity. That's the main driver of their output and without it they go bust.

Now, the thing about knowledge work is that you need to focus immensly to bring out the most of your knowledge. This is called deep work - uninterruped time allocated to completing a certain task.

In the example above our worker lost half of their working day in meetings. Remember: the economic value of this organization is driven by how much deep work their team is able to output. Time spent in meetings is time not doing deep work.

Therefore, half of the cost of the worker goes without a return and those meetings carry a huge opportunity cost.

Summing Up

Of course I'm not saying that you should erradicate meetings from your life - you need to coordinate your work with other people. What I'm saying is that bad meetings are costing companies a lot of money. Companies need to make an effort to erradicate bad meetings.

So whenever you think of scheduling that next meeting, consider.

Is it really necessary? Will it provide enough value to justify it's existance?