As the old adage goes: Time is money. And in the business world, much time, and therefore money, is consumed by meetings, conference calls, training sessions, and conferences.
However, it’s amazing what can be accomplished in these forums on the sly. Productivity often surges when we tune out during work meetings and conferences. What better time is there to transcribe that to-do list from the mind to the paper (or Blackberry) than when a higher-up or guest speaker drones on a touch too long? Please, find us a CEO who can captivate the attention of even the most loyal of employees for the duration of a town hall and we’ll forgo the bonus we didn't actually get. Whether it’s a phone conference or an annual board meeting, it is truly impressive how industrious we can be when we’re supposed to be listening.
The Business Insider asked folks from the administrative to the executive levels how prolific they can be when operating on the DL. Understandably in a time of job slashing, these multi-taskers asked that we not identify their names and places of employment:
1. Start a Company. The founder of an online benefits firm wrote her business plan “while at boring meetings.” The company now employs more than 30 people." (Wonder what those employees work on during her business meetings!)
2. Launch that Hollywood/Literary Career. An editor-in-chief “cranked out a feature film treatment,” and a production assistant wrote “a short story on my notepad.”
3. Clean Address-Book House. “In conferences and when the focus isn’t [on me], I will go through my cell phone and delete obsolete numbers and text messages. I feel so organized and ready to take on the day post conference,” says a small business owner.
4. Make Travel Arrangements. Ah, the Internet. Whether on his laptop or on his PDA, a tech consultant often book flights and hotels when meeting with bigwigs.
5. Get A New Gig. “During a Monday status meeting with one company I took a pending job offer with another and drafted my two weeks notice letter,” said a product designer.
6. Get Homework Done. Those working by day and going to school by night have some crossover. “In meetings or conferences, I use my PDA to read the news or outline papers for homework,” said an employee at a financial institution. Training sessions are particularly good for getting side stuff done because they typically involve the computer.
7. Plan For The Next Meeting. With all those meeting to attend, when is there time to plan? During! “I always prepare ahead of time for the first one, then work on my outline for the next meeting during that meeting,” says a graphic designer. “It’s like middle school, when you work on your math homework during English.”
8. Budget. While meeting with developers to discuss the budget for a new building, an architect reveals he often finds the time to do his personal monthly budget.
9. That To-Do List. “Grocery lists, catching up on People magazine, and ordering shoes from Neiman Marcus” were what two top editors admitted to ticking off their list during big meetings.
10. Get Your Actual Work Done. When on a conference call, the director of programming at a major non-profit “put the phone on mute so I can tune out while doing other the work I am paid to do.”
And our gross but true bonus: Grooming. “I once got caught by a colleague picking ingrown hairs on my knee,” says a business analyst. “It was certainly more engrossing than the meeting!”