We’ve all been in a conference that just won’t end. Sometimes I think the business world thrives off coffee, paper clips, and 2 hour discussions that should only take 15 minutes. If I thought it were possible, I would write about how to end these time wasting “discussions”. Unfortunately I do not think it’s possible. There will always be someone who isn’t up to speed and the meeting will almost always run long. Here is a list of things you can do to pass time and maybe even save a little.
Schedule – I am a list maker. I make to-do lists when I’m bored. When I get bored in a conference I always start with a 7 point to do list. I make priorities for the current day and if time permits I go until the end of the week. I do not make these lists unless I am forced to sit through an excessively long meeting. And I’m always glad when I do.
Manage your inbox – Take this time you’ve been cursed with and clear your email inbox. Reply to all of those emails that you’ve been putting off. Put emails that you want to save into appropriate folders. There is little better in life than looking at an empty inbox at work.
Write thank you notes – We all have thank you notes on the to do list. Meetings are a great time to jot down some notes and strengthen your relationships with friends, family, and coworkers.
Draw the current speaker’s face – This will help you pay attention. If you try and make a good drawing you’ll find yourself entirely focused on the speaker’s face. Of course they will just think you are paying attention to their presentation. Which you probably should be.
Keep a journal – Most people who have a journal find it to be useful. Everyone who doesn’t starts journaling every first and second of the new year. Update your journal (even a professional journal) during a long, drawn-out conference. You’ll thank yourself a few years from now.
Make a code – I will be the first to admit that this is not useful or productive in any way. This just happens to be a favorite activity of mine. Find a way to mix up your letters and try taking notes in a secret code. Create a key and relish in the idea that you could leave your job and join the CIA. You could maybe even join us at Innovation Simple.
Whatever you do to pass the time, know that all of your coworkers are also dreaming of the outside world. Try to be positive about the situation. There may be a better way to use your time, but these conferences need to happen. It is good to get everyone on the same page, even if it takes far too long. Just try and make the best of it and pull the details of your life organized and planned. The meeting may be dull and excessive, but you can still be productive. Intelligent people are rarely bored.