beginning and ending, properly

by Corey Kohn

Meetings can feel like a real time-suck. They often feel like they take longer than they should and meander all over the place without sense of direction or accomplishment. And what makes this aimlessness feel even more like a waste of time, is that we often don't know when the meeting has actually begun. And when it's finally over, that's not apparent either, since it wraps up with an imperceptible whimper and people just start wandering out. Basically the problem is that we're rarely good at starting and ending things properly.

Our minds and bodies need a clear and easily recognizable indicator of where to be and when. When we don't begin and end things well, it's not clear that they are happening and we don't know to actually be there or to leave. It's why we usually start and end conversations with recognizable cues like 'hello' and 'bye'. And because we often don't do this in meetings that's surely part of why we spend a lot of meeting time with our minds somewhere else. And, in fact, we can hardly wait to really be somewhere else because we don't know when the meetings is actually going to be over.

Because of this, at dojo4, we start and end most of our meetings clearly. We use either a bow & and a clap or a cue word ('brosh!'- we'll save that story for another time). By clearly delineating when a meeting is beginning and ending, we are making an effort to respect each other's time and attention. When it begins we've all gotten the cue to be in the room. And when it ends, it doesn't just bleed out like dying patient- people know they can leave and get back to whatever else they need to do.


I've found that being precise about opening and closing our regular meetings here is one of the things that makes them crisp, joyful and, for the most part, pretty darn effient.

In fact, it's such a useful tool that I gave a presentation on this workplace 'hack' recently as part of the the LifeHacks 2.0 series, along with other presentations from the stellar folks from Hub Boulder, the Integral Center, Buddhist Geeks and Mandala Integrative Medicine Clinic.