A Workplace Routine That Works Even Better in Your Relationship
A much maligned part of the workplace is the over-reliance on long, inefficient meetings that could have been an email.
But there’s one kind of meeting I’ve always found helpful, especially in remote or distributed teams: the daily or almost-daily “check-in.” Sometimes it’s called a huddle, a stand-up, a round robin, but in essence it’s the same: A quick, to-the-point run-down of what people are working on, what they might need from colleagues, and what’s next on deck. It usually lasts no more than 10 minutes, and makes you feel connected to your colleagues even when you’re far apart.
Recently, my partner and I instituted something similar. We had a mountain of life admin piling up on us: planning a wedding, re-jigging our budget with changing circumstances, and renovation and DIY projects at not one, but two flats.
As a result, we were bouncing between one of two unhelpful habits. Habit one was talking about these projects and to-do list items at all hours of the day, with no structure, sometimes via text message, often in between tasks, or when the other one was inevitably tired or short-tempered. The other habit was to schedule time for a formal “meeting at the weekend,” which would often get rescheduled, and by the time we got to it would feel so overwhelming that it’d result in an argument.
So instead, my partner suggested a morning huddle. After coffee, when the laptop is open, the brain is switched on, and the workday is just about to start. We sit across from one another and spend 5–10 minutes (okay, sometimes 15) going through any pressing matters that need decisions, compromise, or action on one or both of our parts. This can be everything from “Here’s the unexpected stuff involved in our budget for March. How are we going to pay for X?” to “Which night this weekend do we want to go out for dinner? I’ll make a reservation.” or “Does it work for you if the floor guy comes next Wednesday, I need to confirm.”
If we don’t get to everything, that’s okay — there’s another meeting tomorrow. The morning huddle means the rest of our interactions for the day (especially dinnertime) don’t need to be dominated by life’s boring admin and process talk. In those times, we can try to enjoy each other’s company.
The huddle works best if you choose a time where both of you are switched “on.” Not tired, over it, distracted by work, or wanting to check out. It also needs to have a time limit. Ten minutes cannot become 30 every day. Throughout the rest of the day, try to keep things that belong in the huddle in the huddle; if you think of something that needs bringing up, jot it down on your huddle list.
It’s also totally fine to take a day off once in a while. Once you get into the habit, the beauty of the huddle is that you know one is always coming up soon.