The secret, little discussed 10th level of Hell…

There’s a special level of hell reserved for the bureaucrats. Conveniently, you don’t have to die to get there. All you have to do is show up, day after day for 40 years and suddenly somewhere along the way you realize you’re already there. You find yourself sitting in meetings that have been held every Tuesday since before anyone in the room was even an employee. You’ll find yourself updating a PowerPoint slide that you updated two months before, and two months before that and backwards in time to the dawn of the electronic age and into the land of acetate view graphs and overhead projectors before that.

Maybe somewhere in the mists of time there was a legitimate need to do these things, but so many of the time killing tasks we face day to day seem like they’re on autopilot that it’s near impossible to tell the important from the other stuff. Want to free up millions of dollars in resources? Cancel every repeating meeting on everyone’s calendar and only schedule meetings that are actually needed. Meetings shouldn’t be a weekly excuse for coffeecake and social time. Poof. Suddenly you’ve saved yourself a million man hours a month. Want to save more money? Never prepare PowerPoint charts unless they are absolutely necessary to express a complex concept. Our caveman ancestors used their words to spread ideas. Surely we can manage to do the same.

If anyone needs me, I’ll be toiling on the next series of charts in the 10th level of hell… my half-walled cubicle. Now if I can just figure out where they’ve put my stapler.

Editorial Note: This part of a continuing series of posts previously available on a now defunct website. They are appearing on http://www.jeffreytharp.com for the first time. This post has been time stamped to correspond to its original publication date.

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