Back-to-Back meetings, busyness, and the power of asking great questions

The High Five - Edition #33

Hey 👋🏽,

I hope you are having a great weekend and are gearing up for the week coming up. The High Five turned 1-year old last week. I started this newsletter as a vehicle for sharing the content that falls at the intersection between “interesting” and “something to learn about/from”. I am glad that in the last 1 year, the readership increased to over 100 and whenever I receive a message of appreciation on LinkedIn or Twitter or Whatsapp, it lights me up. Thank you to each of you for subscribing and for sharing it with your friends.  

This 33rd edition is leaning heavily towards productivity, as I came across two thought-provoking pieces about avoiding “busyness”. And there is one HBR piece about the most ignored driver for career growth and self-development - asking great questions. Read on…

Productivity: Read this if you find yourself telling “I am in back-to-back meetings”

There is a quote popular in the management/corporate circles - “show me your calendar and I will tell you where you will be 5 years from now”. It might sound like an exaggeration but the essence of it holds very true if we zoom out a bit.

The author of this blog - Tim Denning - shares an incredible example of his former boss - who refused to be busy. Tim nicknamed him Buddha. In this article, Tim makes a very important case for “doing stuff” over “attending meetings”. I found the article very thought-provoking - so much that I audited my calendar once again (I do it every month by the way), to see if I am striking a fair balance between focus time (when I do stuff) and meetings. Did you ever audit your calendar that way? Try it, the insights can be illuminating.

Busyness produces less results, not more. Meetings are the worst form of productivity. The “doing” gets done outside of meetings. Doing happens when you have time to think. Doers schedule thinking.

Productivity: Differences between busy and productive people

Speaking of busyness, do you know the difference between being busy and productive? This article contrasts the key behaviours/characteristics between busy people and productive people. Here is a visual illustration that summarizes the article:

Now, how are you going to approach your workday differently? Let me know in the comments if you have any tactics to keep busyness away.

Management & Leadership: Asking Great Questions

HBR has always been a great source of interesting insights - not just about management and leadership but also about mindset, behaviours and a plethora of topics. This particular article elaborates on one of the most ignored attributes of a successful management professional - asking questions. In my career, I have seen professionals who have altered the perceptions that other leaders held about them - by simply raising their hands and asking questions. Repeatedly. And not dumb questions, but really good questions. Asking great questions is an effective way to demonstrate your critical thinking skills.

This HBR article shares many a tip on how to ask great questions, depending on contexts, objectives and dynamics.

I think it is one of the best articles on HBR. And if you are like me - who saves, re-reads and takes notes of such articles - you will derive a lot of value in implementing some of the suggestions covered in this piece.

A quote that resonated with me this week: “It is not the amount of knowledge that makes a brain. It is not even the distribution of knowledge. It is the interconnectedness.” — Howard Bloom

Take a pause to ponder about this: What do you have in your life right now that you can be grateful for?

Today, I had lunch with my family at a restaurant that played some really cool jazz music. I checked on Shazam and discovered this cool band called “The Cooltrane Quartet”. For light moods. Check it out.

If you liked this edition of “The High Five”, please share it with a friend who might like it too. Until next time.