I spend way too much time in meetings.  I’ve been working myself ragged trying to keep up with my deliverables, and not able to get any of them done, mostly because I spend my days racing from one meeting to the next, often in different buildings, sometimes in different campuses.  (Microsoft has more than one in the Redmond area, with over 120 buildings).

This week, I came down with something.  A cold, I think, but my primary symptom was severe exhaustion.  I spent the first day at home mostly sleeping, but the next day at home catching up on my architectural deliverables, even though I was missing about five ‘important’ meetings.

And that’s when it really hit home… the meetings just were not that important.  It is OK to skip a few, or turn some down, if it means I can leave myself time to actually do the work they pay me to do.

I asked and some of the other architects have a standing set of “meetings” for three hours a day, three days a week, that they set aside to get work done… time when they cannot be easily ‘scheduled’ by someone who believes, perhaps with all the best intent, that they need an architect in the room.

But, to be honest, sometimes it is better for me, and the room, if I skip meeting #5 on the process for figuring out how to handle the return of a volume license from a company that didn’t buy one. (I made that up, but it sounds like the kind of timekiller I’m talking about).

Saying ‘yes’ to another meeting request means saying ‘no’ to my son who wants to ride a bicycle with me in the early evening, before the sun sets.  That’s the perspective I need to keep.

By Nick Malik

Former CIO and present Strategic Architect, Nick Malik is a Seattle based business and technology advisor with over 30 years of professional experience in management, systems, and technology. He is the co-author of the influential paper "Perspectives on Enterprise Architecture" with Dr. Brian Cameron that effectively defined modern Enterprise Architecture practices, and he is frequent speaker at public gatherings on Enterprise Architecture and related topics. He coauthored a book on Visual Storytelling with Martin Sykes and Mark West titled "Stories That Move Mountains".

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