Read an interview with my current thinker of the moment, Prof Adam Grant, who has written Give and Take. In the interview he was asked, as a Giver himself, how does he stop getting overwhelmed with requests on his time.
Whenever someone asks me for a meeting the first thing I ask back is, “What the agenda for this meeting and what contributions can be expected from me?” It’s amazing. Half the time they can’t answer. I have it as an auto-script at this point that I just paste in. What’s fascinating is that I often hear back, “Oh, I just really thought you wanted to be there.” And I say, “I appreciate you being polite, but if it’s no difference to you, I prefer not to be included.”
“I never said I should help all the people, all the time, with all the requests.” My priority is family first, students second, colleagues third. Everybody else comes fourth. If I can’t fulfill my commitment to those first three groups, that meeting is not something I’m going to be making time for.
So here at Make Happy we have agreed never to send a meeting request out without an agenda and an overview of the contributions we are expecting from the invitees.