Let’s Solve Meetings, Together.

Max Brawer
7 min readOct 16, 2020

Quick tech tips and cultural nudges to reduce burnout in this meeting-fueled work-from-home era.

As far back as 2006, the scions of work at Basecamp knew that meetings were “toxic”:

From their book “Getting Real”: https://basecamp.com/gettingreal/07.3-meetings-are-toxic

We all agree and yet we all let them keep happening. And that was before the 2020 pandemic sent everyone home to quarantine and live their life in front of a webcam, our collective fatigue lining Zoom’s pockets.

What if I told you that as long as you clicked a few buttons and stayed assertive, you could make your meeting life manageable? That’s enough preface for my taste, here’s how you can have better meetings and reduce burnout, ordered by difficulty to execute:

Level 1: So Easy You Have No Excuse Not To Do It

  • Check “Guests Can Modify the Meeting” in Google Calendar. Why? If your colleague wants to contribute an agenda, enter notes on advance, or pick a better time for them, they can’t by default. What?? Please help them.
Google, are you listening? You probably could save lives by making this the default.
  • While you are at it: set the default meeting time to 30 minutes + Speedy Meetings if you are up for trying to end at the 5 minute mark (I believe in you). Why? Because there is no such thing as an hour meeting.
See “there is no such thing as an hour meeting” for more
  • Define any purpose. The meeting has a place where you can politely remind people why it exists. Use it!
Staaaaring. At the Blank Page Beforeeeee You…
  • Enable (and Respect) Working Hours. This is a nice feature in Google Calendar that will help to make sure you don’t ask the peer in London to meet at 8pm their time while Peaky Blinders is on or whatever they do over there. It’s simple and effective (plus it can guide apps as well):
Max Brawer

People Tech & Analytics leader @ Level, formerly Twitch, BuzzFeed, Google, Nielsen | Try his apps @ sheetswizard.com