They can be useful to resolve complicated issues, bringing together the perspectives of stakeholders at the same time.
But that’s also an expensive use of time. And the value of that investment of time depends on how well-prepared one is for the meeting, and on the clarity of actionable items to come out of them.
Here are some of the tactics I use to help me organize effective meetings, and manage my time around them.
Block time: First thing in the morning, and after lunch
Every business day, I have a repeating schedule to block off time first thing in the morning and after lunch. This gives me time to prepare my action/agenda items for meetings later that morning or afternoon. It also gives me time to check my email in case any of the other attendees have indicated a change to the meeting, either in the agenda, or the schedule.
Block time: Before and after meetings
Back-to-back meetings are. The. Worst. That’s why, with every meeting I schedule, I block off time before and after it.
Before a meeting, this gives me time to transition from my work and prepare for my meeting, including taking a bio-break and refilling my coffee.
After a meeting, it gives me time to consolidate notes and process takeaways, and prepare action items before resuming my work or joining the next meeting.
I also offer this courtesy to my colleagues: I avoid booking a meeting immediately following an event in their calendar, and never on the same day unless it’s urgent.
How do you manage your meeting schedule? Let me know in the comments!
For the last few years, I’ve held the notion that if you don’t agree to set any New Years Resolution, you’ll never be disappointed with yourself.
But if I’m totally honest, I kind of am disappointed with myself.
Not that I could have done anything differently in 2021. I’m still adjusting as best as I can from the loss of my son Toby. But I’ve also noticed that as I protect myself from feeling overwhelmed from the PTSD associated with this loss, I’ve also separated myself from people and causes I care about.
As I feel and see winter melting away, welcoming a new Spring, the resolution I’ve made for myself is to try to participate again in things that bring me joy, and to try to allow joy into my life again — with the guilt and grief that often comes with it.
I already know it’s not going to be easy. It’s also not always easy to say “no” to the things that aren’t particularly joyful. But there are a few things that stand out that I’d like to try focussing more on:
Exploring Web development and design thinking.
Engaging with my local cycling advocacy in Brampton again (BikeBrampton). They’re good people.
Developing non-partisan models and policy ideas that empower communities. (I’m trying to be very particular with this one, as advocacy can easily eat up a lot of personal time and isn’t always a joyful task).
Enjoying the journey of exploring interesting ideas — just like Toby used to do.
My God. Has it been 7 years since writing a post on this site?
I guess it’s been easy to forget about. Other platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Medium, etc. make it easy to post and share content quickly and efficiently. Although, Facebook has increasingly become more of a dumpster fire.
But I guess, sometimes, there are some things to say that need to go, I dunno, deeper — with many parts. I think this is one of those posts.
Back in Christmas 2014, the last time I apparently wrote a post on this site, my son Toby would have fairly recently turned 6 years old, being enabled in his love for Lego.
This hadn’t changed by the time he was 12.
7 years later, in 2021, we’ll be experiencing our first Christmas without him. He died of a rare liver cancer, fibrolamellar carcinoma, on January 2, 2021.
I miss him every day. So, so much.
On August 29, 2021, I did my first of what will likely be many more fundraisers to raise money for cancer research: The Ride to Conquer Cancer. Unlike previous years, due to the pandemic, participants were encouraged to either participate virtually, or participate in a physically distant ride. I took the opportunity to plan a ~50km ride around Brampton, a sort of trip down memory lane, to remember important locations that impacted Toby’s life.
Summary of Locations
The ride starts at “Toby’s Way”, a section of recreational trail in Brampton named in his honour.
Place of Birth
Toby’s delivery was a home birth. It seemed fitting to re-visit this area of Brampton early in the ride.
The cost of daycare, especially after Toby was born, had a huge impact on our lives and the decisions we would make later regarding our “cost to work”, and eventually living car-free for 10 years.
Helen Wilson Public School
Toby’s first kindergarten school experience, a short cargo-bike ride from our house.
Brampton Public Library, Four Corners Branch
Toby was a prolific reader. I would often stop at the library on my way home from work to pick up and return books for him.
Bramalea & Chinguacousy Park
“Canada’s first satellite community”, this part of what is now Brampton had a huge role in Toby’s life. His cousins lived here, and he visited often. When his older siblings went to school here, he enjoyed breakfast with his mother after the school drop-off (before we sold our car). He would then enjoy dance parties later during after-school pickup. Eventually, he would go to school in this area.
Dorset Drive Public School
Following his older siblings’ footsteps, Toby attended this French immersion elementary school from grades 1-5.
William G. Davis Sr. Public School
Before ending the ride, the final stop is William G. Davis Sr. Public School. This school is significant to my family. It was attended by myself, both of my brothers, and Toby’s older brother. September 2020 was Toby’s last school experience, before collapsing in gym class one day and needed to be taken home, a few days before waking up jaundiced when his liver failed from what we later learned was cancer.
The entire ride was live-streamed. I wore a microphone to record my narration as a rode around Brampton visiting each location, reflecting on the significance of each place in Toby’s life. It’s over 4 hours long, but if you wish to see them, they’re here:
I’m doing something a little different this year for Movember. I’m giving you, yes you. All of you, the opportunity to tell me which mo to grow.
But, there’s a catch. If you want to decide the fate of my mo, you have to be the single largest contributor to my donations. Anyone can change the style I grow out by offering a larger donation. Feel free to use the style guide above, or send me a photo of a mo to grow.
Will this work? I dunno.
Could this result in some weird deviant hybrid mo that should never have seen the light of day, growing on my face? Could be.
Very convincing huh? Here I am, a pretty knowledgeable and competent designer, and all I’ve got to show for it is a default WordPress installation…
I know, I know… I’m working on it!
I figure this is better than a static HTML page promising to have something up soon. At least this way, I can write down my inner monologue and post it to the work while I slowly bring my site back up to speed.
I think at some point, I’ll start importing some of my old posts from when my site used to be on WordPress. There are some cool ideas there that I might want to expand on in the future.
Also, I definitely want to share some thoughts I had on a sort of “responsive typesetting” idea I’ve been staring to use with some of my projects.