Boring meetings
Don’t be that guy. Image: VGstockstudio/Shutterstock

How to survive a million meetings without going crazy

5 Dec 2016

Are you staring down the barrel of a million work meetings this week? No matter how important they are, meetings can be boring, drag out and make even the most focused worker sleepy.

For many employees, there are plenty of things to keep them busy at work on a daily basis. The last thing they need is five weekly meetings to slow you down and make you sleepy.

Aside from taking you away from the work you need to do, meeting after meeting can get boring fast and you may find yourself fighting daydreams, sleep or insanity.

But how do you stay focused (or at least alert) during work meetings when you have what feels like hundreds between now and the end of the year?

Bring a notebook

You probably always bring a notebook, but how much do you actually use it in meetings? Actively take bullet point notes throughout to keep your brain focused on what’s being said.

Even if not every point is relevant to you, it’s still worth jotting down a few buzzwords. The more you’re actively listening to jot down important points, the less likely your mind is to wander off.

Prepare some questions

If you know what the meeting is about, think about some talking points or questions to ask yourself. Even if it’s minimal input, your brain is more likely to focus when it’s seeking information.

Give your brain time to think about the meeting in advance. This will keep you more focused on what people are saying when you’re in there.

Bring sustenance

This one is especially important if you think the meeting is going to be long or if it’s right before lunch and you’re liable to get hungry.

Bring a snack for a little energy boost if you’re feeling sluggish, or to quell a rumbling tummy. Water is also good to stay alert and if you’re particularly bored, regular sips of water will give you something to do and stop you from nodding off.

Keep calm and carry on

Some meetings might bring on feelings of dread rather than boredom, depending on what they’re about.

Stress can affect the rest of your work day, so it’s a good idea to take a few minutes before the meeting for some mediation or controlled breathing to stay attentive.

Use the downtime

Most meetings come with a series of lulls or breaks; be it while a presentation is taking time to load, a laptop is being switched on or you’re waiting for everyone to come in. Use this time to doodle on your notebook or actively think about something other than work.

It can be difficult, especially if you’re making small talk with colleagues while you’re all waiting together, but a few minutes’ break from work will keep your brain active during even the most boring meetings.

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Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the deputy editor of Silicon Republic in 2020, having worked as the careers editor until June 2019. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

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