Friday, February 27, 2015

Avoiding Meetings That Waste Your Time

Ribbon: I survived another meeting that should have been an email

Ribbon by Will Bryant, via Mike Monteiro

I’ve sat in my share of meetings that seemed like a waste of time, so this ribbon made me smile. Still, there are some good reasons for having meetings, and David Allen summarized them nicely (PDF):

1. To give or get information. Yes, a lot of routine information could be just as easily (and much more efficiently) shared by email. As someone wrote on, meetings “usually convey an abysmally small amount of information per minute.”

But sometimes the issues involved are sensitive, and communicating though a meeting is more effective than the alternatives. I’ve been in situations where organizations were going though big changes and people were nervous; having plenty of meetings to keep people informed was a big help.

Here’s an example Allen provides:
“Hello everyone. I’ve brought you all together today to let you know what’s been going on about the pending lawsuit. I’d like you to leave here today understanding what’s going on, and with as much background as you need to be able to answer questions that may arise from our customers.”
2. To develop options and make decisions. Getting the right people together is often the most effective way to have these types of discussions.

3. To build relationships through in-person meetings. This is especially useful when a new team is forming.

As I’ve mentioned before, any meeting will be more effective if a well-constructed agenda is provided to meeting participants for their review before the meeting. Sometimes there are documents that should be shared before the meeting, too — and sent out early enough that participants have adequate time to review them.

So how do we avoid the plague of meetings that arent useful? In his talk at TED@State Street Boston, David Grady suggests that part of the problem comes from our tendency to mindlessly accept any meeting invitations we get.
A meeting invitation pops up in your calendar. ... There’s no agenda. There’s no information about why you were invited to the meeting. And yet you accept the meeting invitation, and you go. And when this highly unproductive session is over, you go back to your desk, and you stand at your desk and you say, “Boy, I wish I had those two hours back.”

Every day, we allow our coworkers, who are otherwise very, very nice people, to steal from us. ... I’m talking about time. Your time. In fact, I believe that we are in the middle of a global epidemic of a terrible new illness known as MAS: Mindless Accept Syndrome. The primary symptom of Mindless Accept Syndrome is just accepting a meeting invitation the minute it pops up in your calendar.
Grady suggests that you don’t automatically accept a questionable meeting invitation, but rather get in touch with the meeting organizer to learn more about the meeting and figure out whether it makes sense for you to attend. This might not be acceptable behavior in all organizations, but it’s an idea worth trying if your organization’s culture would support it.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Giving the Keys a Home

key cabinet with queen and Corgi

You need the One True Place to put your keys in as you enter your house. — user “maudlin” on Ask MetaFilter

If you don’t want your One True Place to be a magnetic key holder, there are plenty of other solutions. While you don’t need something specially intended for keys — any hook or small dish could do — here are some key holders worth admiring.

The key box above comes from The Original Metal Box Company. This is the smaller size, with 10 hooks; each hook can hold at least two fobs. The larger size has 24 key hooks and has a lock; sadly, this design is not available on the larger box. The company sells the boxes on its website, and you can also find them on Not On the High Street.

key hook with London Underground linesfour key hooks (a set) with London Underground lines

Let’s stick with the British theme for a minute. The Remember Me key hooks from Blue Marmalade can be bought separately, but they also work nicely as a set of four. Each one has two hooks and one key fob. Blue Marmalade says, “Remember Me fixes to the wall with some clever sticky pads that are very strong but can also be removed without damaging paint or tearing wallpaper.” The hooks are made from recycled plastic.

key hook with a single London Underground line (Victoria)

Another version of the Remember Me key hook shows a single Underground line, rather than a combination of many. Six different lines are available. [via Switched On Set and Freshome]

brass key holder and fob brass key holders and fob

The Pure Brass key holder and fob is an elegant storage solution, although it does involve adding a bit of heft to the keyring.

key cabinet behind a mirror

Returning to the idea of a key cabinet, you can combine the key cupboard and the egg mirror from Rizz to get this lovely key storage solution. The cupboard is made of Corian. [via Design Milk]

Monday, February 2, 2015

Magnets Make it Easy to Find the Keys

magnetic key holder; wooden cube with magnets on 3 sides and bottom

To avoid misplaced keys, it helps to have a regular location where they’re always stored. That could be a dish or a hook — or it could be a magnetic holder. I’ve mentioned Peleg Design’s Key Pete in a prior post, but there are many other options.

Tat Chao has the Kube, available with a walnut, mahogany or birch veneer. All three sides plus the bottom are magnetized, so a small cube can hold a fair number of keys. The bottom side can hold up to 0.75 pounds; the other sides can hold about 0.5 pounds. You can find the Kube on Etsy. [via Toronto Life]

magnetic key holder, wood

Søren Henrichsen makes this magnetic key holder called the Woodee. You can get it directly from Søren Henrichsen, in one of three finishes, or you could get it from The Merchant & Co.

magnetic key holder, cube shape

Kubonets recently launched via a successful Kickstarter, and the products are now available on Etsy. They come in sets of nine, in three finishes; you can get a single finish or a mixture. Each one holds about a pound. [via organizer Julie Bestry and Backerjack]

magnetic key holder, cloud shape

But not all magnet key holders have the wood finish. Duncan Shotton Design Studio provides us with the Cloud key holder; the keys are meant to represent rain falling from the cloud. There are three hidden magnets, each of which can hold about 200g (7 ounces). [via Freshome]

magnetic key holder, target shape

The Key Target was designed for AreaWare by Bower. There are several magnets inside, which allow you to just toss your keys at the target. It’s sold at a number of places, including Generate.

magnetic light switch cover, holding key ring with 20+ keys

And here’s a totally different approach: the NeoCover magnetic light switch cover, which will hold up to 27 keys.