Next Time You Don’t Want To Go To A Meeting, Do This

The good news was I was at the World Economic Forum for Latin America in Mexico with an amazing array of speakers, panels and participants. The bad news was I felt pulled to attendeverything and meet everyone. When I was involved in one activity it was easy to think, “Oh, I wonder if I should have gone to that session instead!” The (well-known) term for this sensation is “the fear of missing out” (or FOMO). After two days of this, I was feeling some meeting fatigue. I decided to opt out of the rest of the afternoon and head, instead, for the pool.

One look at the (actual) pool and you might say, “Well that is just a no-brainer of a decision!” But that is really my point: it wasn’t obvious in the moment. I had been so consumed with the fear of missing out I had not stopped to consider what Anil Dash has termed, “the joy of missing out” (or JOMO).

To my surprise and delight I was not the only person who had the idea. I was joined by fifteen or so fellow rebels. Each of us looked at each other with a little chagrin. But the serendipity that followed was amazing. With the space to relax and just talk without an agenda or scheduled “content,” magical things happened. Deep relationships were formed, spontaneous ideas flowed and one important initiative was launched.

Our lives at work and at home are full of many invitations to attend this event or that meeting. Not only can the number of these invitations feel overwhelming, the fear of missing out can lead us to be unsatisfied with the choices we make as we wonder about the other half are doing. I sat down with the Huffington Post recently to talk about this.

Here are five hacks you might consider move from the fear of missing out to the joy of missing out.

Hack #1 Just because you can do both doesn’t mean you should do both.

Next time you are invited to an event or meeting when you already have something catch yourself when the thought crosses your mind, “I will do both.” When you do, stop, pause and pick one of the choices. Even though you might actually be able to fit them in, discipline yourself to still pick one. At the end of the day, reflect on the tradeoffs you made and what this resulted in.

Hack #2 Just because you committed doesn’t mean you can’t uncommit.

Look at each commitment on your calendar for the next few weeks. Ask “If I wasn’t already involved how hard would I work to attend?” If the answer is “not hard at all” then ask to be released from your commitment: “I know I said I would be at this but I think I spoke too soon.”

Hack #3 If you want to add a new commitment get rid of an existing one.

Establish a new rule: if you want to add a new activity you need to edit out an existing activity. This simple rule ensures you don’t add an activity that is less valuable than something you are already doing. Hold tightly to this idea if you are considering setting up any regular or repeated commitment and think long and hard about all the things you would have to give up in order to take this new thing on.

Hack #4 Just because you did it last time isn’t a good enough reason to do it again.

Not every successful event has to become an annual tradition. Sometimes, well-intendedactivities add up overtime and become a type of schedule scar tissue. There is something noble in declaring something the first and last of its kind. Make the memory, then let the memory live on rather than the tradition. Allow space to make new memories. Then allow those too to lapse without creating a burden on your future. We need to put an expiration date on once-good-but-now-burdensome-activities.

Hack #5 When you think, “Wouldn’t it be great if…” Just stop.

A friend was just telling me of an idea someone had to wear the same color t-shirts at an event they were planning. Soon this turned into buying exactly the same t-shirt for everyone. Then it became creating branded t-shirts (with all of the graphic design and ordering that go with it). It became a time and money stress as the idea grew out of all proportion and, in the process, no longer fit for purpose. Playing with ideas and new projects is great but give yourself permission not to pursue all of them. Go for simplification instead of aggrandizement.

I think we have been oversold the idea of more and undersold the idea of less.

Instead of adding more out of a vague fear of missing out, we can choose to subtract a few meetings, events and overstuffed traditions. In the process we may quietly revel in the new found joy of missing out.


Think the one thing you need more of is less? Be one of the first to preorder Greg’s upcoming book, “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.”

Read the original post: Next Time You Don’t Want To Go To A Meeting, Do This – Linkedin Blog

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Photo: Kai Wiechmann / Getty Images