I think we’ve all seen it. A meeting full of high performing, committed people… and that guy. Which is not to say that “that guy” is not good at something, it’s just that this — this meeting or project — doesn’t benefit from his presence. So what is he doing here?
Chances are that he’s here on autopilot. He was invited to the meeting because someone didn’t want to hurt his feelings. Maybe the internal processes said he should be here (though the process is outdated or was designed by someone who doesn’t fully understand the work). It’s not that he’s not useful, he’s just not useful in this context. And by extension, he’s wasting not only everyone else’s time, but his time. Which is to say, your time.
Because most of us have been on that side of the table, too; that situation where we find ourselves — mostly through unthinking acceptance to a meeting request or project inclusion – in a place that doesn’t benefit from our involvement.
One of the easiest ways to reduce the busyness is not to scale back, optimize or better organize, but to simply stop. Stop doing the things that don’t allow you to provide real value. Ask yourself what you expect to bring to the table in a given situation and, if the answer is nothing (or anything less than exceptional), politely excuse yourself and get on to the work that matters.
And please, please stop inviting everyone to everything. They, too, have better things to do.