LOOK AT THE CLOCK | Use Time Stamps to Stay Sane

One of the best pieces of parenting advice came from an unlikely source. He was a salesman I was interacting with when my wife was expecting our first son over 18 years ago. I can’t remember his name (the salesman’s, of course, I remember my son’s) or what he was selling, but I remember the advice very well.

“Whenever the baby starts crying, look at the clock. It always feels like they cry much longer than they actually do.”

With four children, that simple strategy kept me sane during many late nights, and recently I adapted it to meetings in the workplace. Going more and more paperless all the time, I’m usually taking notes on my iPad with Drafts, and with TextExpander integration a simple “ttime” inserts a quick time stamp.

time stamp example

I enter this notation anytime we switch sections in the meeting - new agenda item or new person presenting. And sometimes I enter it when I start to get bored or the meeting takes a nasty turn. The practice has assisted in providing some helpful after-meeting feedback, “The presentation was actually 36 minutes,” but more importantly and more commonly it’s really helped keep me sane during long, unproductive meetings.

When I gain the perspective that we only wasted 14 minutes in the meeting griping about things we cannot change, I don’t feel like the entire time was pointless.