Do you waste other people’s time?

When I went into my first commercial job at the age of 22, the company I was working for had also hired a new marketing executive. It wasn’t a big company. It had somewhat informal processes. And the first thing the new marketing executive commented on was that every single meeting started late.

Very few people have any slack in their schedules and the vast majority of people cannot avoid meetings either and meetings culture tends to have a huge knock on effect on how productive people are. Sometimes, I think people need to take a step back and ask whether their meetings etiquette has an impact on other people’s productivity. If I am trying to plan around a 30 minute meeting, does it matter if some one shows up late to that meeting?

Well yes. Very often, the meeting might not start until they arrive, if they are critical. And it may run over time as a result. If you are the person arriving late, you are wasting the time of the people waiting for you, and if as a result, your meeting runs overtime, it may have a serious knock on effect on your own schedule as you turn up later and later for meetings which run late. And this has a knock on effect on everyone else.

Think about it. You turn up late to a meeting. You waste collectively an hour of six people’s time. You have a knock on impact on the schedule of 6 other people who, if you’re lucky, aren’t actually trying to get to another meeting, but who may wind up back at their desk later than planned which may mess up some of their time planning for the day which will have a net negative impact on their productivity. It may cut the amount of time they have free to complete some task before another meeting in their schedule, or the amount of time free to do something you want from them. Meanwhile, you wander off to another meeting and do something similar to another 6 people. You personally could be responsible – by showing up late for your meetings – huge amounts of lost working time and thus lost productivity for your employer. While still being amazingly busy.

Your schedule is not yours alone. Because of the lack of slack in most modern companies, trying to do more with fewer people, your schedule is shared. If you mess up your schedule, you’re probably messing up the schedule of a lot of people around you as well.

Don’t be surprised if this has a knock on impact on their productivity.


Where do you want to volunteer today.

I had a long conversation with someone about volunteering the other day, someone who has spent a good deal of working life outside Ireland. Specifically he was talking about volunteering time to help local schools with tech knowledge transfer and training. In addition to that, someone sent me this this morning via twitter and it got me thinking about how it can be done rather than the barriers that tend to block it. Obviously there are elements of that last one that are irrelevant to kids outside America because we’ve different ways of doing things but some of the general comments about approaching problems of this nature and how girls tend not to push themselves are not yet history.

I did, at some point during my college years volunteer to help students in disadvantaged areas with some tuition for state exams but I don’t know, given the change in legislation and the need for background vetting whether programs like this still exist. I also like a lot what James Whelton has done with CoderDojo, and things like the Mathsjam movement.

I’m also aware that there is a lot of concern about maths teaching in secondary schools, the perception of maths as hard, as somewhere we’re poorly performing and from past personal experience, the lack of support, sometimes, for girls doing maths. I had a great, great maths teacher at secondary school – I gather he’s a head teacher somewhere now. But he had one hell of a battle and argument to try and keep girls from dropping out of the higher level maths courses.

So I’m looking at the possibility of setting up maths clubs not unlike the coderdojo idea but with some mad cross between mathsjam for kids, purely on a voluntary basis, or possibly going out as a speaker to secondary schools and colleges be it under the auspices of some sort of future planning/careers talks (do we still even do these) or some sort of maths talks and I really, really need to know what I need to know what from a legal standpoint…