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Ben Halpern
Ben Halpern

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How many meetings do you have per week?

And how has this changed from job to job or role to role for you?

Discussion (28)

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ziker22 profile image
Zikitel22

meetings
| /
| /
| /
|/ ____ years of career

This is sad reality but it is natural.
The more you rise the ladder the less you code and more you discuss ideas/architecture/how things should work. Over the time you manage more teams that have more people involved which means more time to synchronize and get everybody on board -> more meetings.

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ben profile image
Ben Halpern Author

What advice would you give someone who wants to manage their career in a direction that limits meetings — even if it means giving up on title and salary opportunities to some extent?

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ziker22 profile image
Zikitel22 • Edited on

From the top of my head

  • Early stage startups - how many meetings do you need to sync 3-4 people given they are mostly seniors :)
  • Being part of "innovation department" - never experienced it myself but from what i heard this is almost no meeting environment
  • Lone wolf freelancer/consultant - well you have meetings with clients but i doubt that they happen more than once per week
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Jeremy Friesen

If you want to limit meetings, there are two opposite tactics:

1) Ensure that all meetings have agendas. If there are none, cancel them. Also, meetings are best as knowledge shares and should generate action items to help further share knowledge.
2) Be in a role that is a turn the crank: "Hey boss, tell me what bug you want me to fix next."

Meetings aren't bad, with someone facilitating and taking notes they are powerful collaboration events. But most meetings (beyond one on ones) are often suboptimal at best (and counter-productive at worst).

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jeremyf profile image
Jeremy Friesen

In fact, I once ran a few "meetings as a service" experiments: takeonrules.com/2021/03/04/meeting...

I blocked out two hours, people showed up, shared what they were going to work on, then did that work. Towards the end, we reconvened and again shared what we accomplished and where next we were going to focus.

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Joe Mainwaring

I was pretty meeting heavy when I was in a lead engineer role, but I still managed to get 4-6 hours daily to focus on code.

Some things I did to help balance meetings with getting things done:

  • Require meetings to have agendas, otherwise I would not attend
  • negotiate with other stakeholders on timing & frequency
  • consider meetings optional if a team member was taking the lead
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Waylon Walker

When I was a Mechanical Engineer it was solid meetings, making it hard to get work done. I moved over to software and I now have about 1 meeting per day with a lot of working sessions with my team done on the fly. I end up in a Teams call for a good 80% of my day.

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Edwin
  • Daily stand-up (15-30m) - useful, quick status updates and discuss urgent issues.
  • Weekly architecture discussion (1h) - cross-team discussion of any architecture topic, this is good for standardisation across teams, reach consensus on topics.
  • Biweekly sprint review (1-1.5h) - Every team presents work delivered during the sprint, useful to see progress and gives devs a feeling of closure.
  • Biweekly feature kickoff(1.5h) - PM presents new features and collects some early technical feedback from the team (helps the team get a feeling of what's coming and understand the bigger picture).
  • Biweekly sprint planning (1-2h) - estimate planned work for the coming sprint, assign story points and identify any issues before work is started.
  • Biweekly retrospective (1h) - feedback on internal processes, which does help to improve over time.

Finally there are functional/technical refinement meetings (1h each, as many as needed) where a small team prepares user stories, define requirements, raise issues in spec/architecture/etc before it is planned for the next sprint.

Sometimes it feels like a lot, but if we don't have these meetings, then devs would have to figure this stuff out during a sprint and the overall delivery time would be longer. So most of them are useful planning meetings, which can be tedious, but we try to limit to 1h so everyone stays sharp.

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Keff

For the first 3 years working on the company I work with, we had no meetings. As the company grew we started doing more, now we do around 1 per day.

We do 1 on mondays to prepare the week, then daily meatings of around 15-30 minutes the rest of the week. Then we do another one on fridays to evaluate the week and prepare for the next one. In the friday meeting we also do some retrospective.

When working remote we've noticed that doing short daily meetings really helps us stay in tune and work better as a team, as eveyone is informed and knows what eveyone else is up to, and how the project is going.

Our work is more effective this way, not so much wasted time.

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Ben Sinclair • Edited on

It varies depending on what projects I'm booked on, but usually around 10-15 or so?

5 x common morning dev coffee type meeting
5 x random meeting
3 x client meetings for different projects

The common meeting is something that wouldn't have happened in the office, but working remotely it helps keep us all connected with what else is going on in the team. People I'd sit next to but not share work with for months aren't lost to the ether.

I have had much more meeting-heavy months, certainly, and at one point last year I'd say nearly half my working time was spent in one meeting or another, but these days I'm back to programming :)

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Daniel Starner

3-4 meetings per week.

  • planning
  • 1:1 with manager
  • retro
  • flex meeting for discussing projects or department-level stuff

We try to keep content and knowledge transfer asynchronous through documentation to limit the number of meetings needed

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Christian Bewernitz

I think it's important to define the term more clearly to get good answers.

Is every Teams/Slack/Zoom call with more then one more person a meeting? Even if the context/content is preparing/planning/pairing on a ticket?

When there are team rituals, is the length and frequency working for the goals that the ritual is trying to reach?

And last but not least, are the right people invited? Minimize "mandatory meetings" and if a whole group is invited, make it clear (over and over again) when a "relevant discussion" is only for the people that are interested.
And be brave about giving feedback to organiser(s) or even saying "No" if you think it's not relevant for you.

I think it's good to regularly think about/question those things, in a way that's a hygiene thing.

By the way, providing meeting notes for people that didn't have the chance to join makes it easier to jump on and off, or get involved when it's relevant.

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Yak

In my experience over the years, having worked on my own and for third parties, the equation regarding meetings is like this:

meetings <$
Or it could be
meeting < important you are

I discovered that the more I avoided some meetings, not only was I the more productive (that's obvious) but also that people's gaze towards me and their value of my time changed.

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Kasey Speakman • Edited on

Increased quantity and decreased outcomes of meetings seem more to do with size/culture of company.

Edit: I don't tend to have a lot of "meetings", maybe single digits per month. But I might have several multi-hour design or work sessions per week with my team. These seem like meetings since we schedule a time and video chat, but they function more like being in the same room solving problems.

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Shrey Dabhi

We have a daily standup everyday which lasts for 15 to 30 minutes, and an hour long fun meeting where the entire dev team gets on a video call to talk about non work stuff and play online games. Apart from that if something is really complex and cannot be conveyed through chats / phone calls then and only then we do a meeting. So I would say an average of 7 meetings per week

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Alan Barr

When I was an engineer very few just usual ceremonies. Planning, retrospectives, design, kickoffs. As a product manager, unless you guard your calendar you can sign yourself up for too much. I do reverse pilots and let meetings that recur auto expire to see if its noticed. Nir Eyal has great content on managing one's schedule. It's too easy to sleepwalk your week and execute then totally whiff on strategic work.

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Jeremy Friesen

I'm a manager of a team of 4 people. One of them is very much part-time. I have three weekly one on ones, plus a monthly one on one for the part-timer. I also have a sync-up meeting with my hierarchical sibling and the product manager. Then there's my one on one with my supervisor. Those are my standing meetings. Then there's usual another meeting throughout the week.

So that's 6.25 one on ones per week plus another meeting of some sort. Those one on ones are between 15 minutes and an hour depending on what all we're doing. Sometimes it might be pairing or just touching base on tasks.

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Pascal Thormeier

Way too many. I've got several roles and projects in the company I work for and I love working in each and every one of them, but sometimes the amount of meetings is overwhelming. This week will be especially rough with a whopping 21 calendar entries for tech discussions, dailies, sync meetings, tech talks, planning meetings, tactical meetings (we do Holacracy) and a pitch preparation or two. Usually it's around 10-13 meetings per week, though.

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InHuOfficial

As I am lucky and control my own diary I have gone from an average of 10 per week to an average of 2 over the last year (including zoom calls!)

I literally just say no to a meeting if it can be done via an email or a quick phone call and ask to see an agenda before attending a meeting (if there isn’t one then I will ask for one before confirming attendance).

It caused a few arguments early on while I enforced this, but now I feel like I have a better relationship with clients as I am now more available for clients queries etc. as I have so much more time.

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Bobo Brussels

Full time worker here. I'm in about one meeting per day. Two "standup" syncs per week, one planning meeting, and a few misc meetings on top of that.

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Pandademic

exactly 1

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history_dev profile image
History Dev

Too many. 🤣

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Jan Küster

Two, one weekly for each project. With my juniors I have not really meetings but rather code or review sessions which is rather actual work than really meetings

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elefint profile image
elefint

Minimum 14 but that can rise quickly to about 25ish.

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Jasterix

Too many. This week alone, I have 16 meetings, including recurring weekly, biweekly or monthly meetings 😭

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Ishaan Sheikh

1-2 if not counting daily stand-ups.

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Yair Even Or

I yelled at the boss to stop harassing me every 2-3 hours with sync meetings and just let me do my work in piece. It worked great and he since left me be. Say no to the nagging.

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Bobby Iliev

Around 2 per day, and we have meeting-free Friday 🎉