Brad Feld

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So I Just Wasted 60 Minutes of System Time

Mar 19, 2008

This rarely happens to me so when it does, I notice it.  And – in my effort to write some of my tricks about work-life balance, I thought I’d call this one out, especially since it was totally my fault.

In a board meeting last week, I had a quick reaction to something I saw and rather than say something in the moment (since my comment was off topic), I added an item to my todo list to email out a note about it. 

Rather than write an email with my specific thoughts, I wrote an email that said something like "I have some thoughts about X."  The person on the receiving end suggested that we get together quickly and discuss it.  Mistake #1 on my part – I should have simply responded with the substantive thought.

We scheduled a brief meeting for the end of the day today.  He ended up bringing two other people by to hear my "important" feedback.  I was 10 minutes late to the meeting because I was down the block from my office at a board meeting.  They sat around in my conference room for 10 minutes (mistake #2 on my part.)

When I showed up, we got right to it.  Sixty seconds later I had given them my thoughts and comment.  In a moment of self-reflection, I realized everything I had just said could be summarized in one sentence.  I made small talk for another minute so that I wouldn’t feel like 91% of their time was wasted hanging around waiting for me.  While my efficiency improved (arguably I had now I had only wasted 83% of their time if you valued the small talk), I now felt like I’d wasted 12 minutes of their lives.  We quickly said goodbye.

They were very gracious about it.  I walked back to my office and felt like a schmuck.  So I wrote this blog post (which took another 12 minutes to write and post.)  Of course, you could argue that I’m wasting even more system time by having posted this (and causing you to read it), but that’s your choice.

Presumably you get the message.  I could have saved everyone a lot of time by simply saying what was on my mind during the meeting.  I had a second – and easy – chance to do this in the email I sent after the meeting.  Eventually I got around to saying it, but only after it wasted some more time.