How To Get Out Of That Meeting Once and For All

Meetings are the bane of my existence.

It’s not that I’m not diametrically opposed to meetings.

Under the right circumstances and executed under the proper guidelines, meetings can be a great expenditure of time…

…The problem is, most meetings — I’m willing to say 95% them — are not held under the right circumstances nor are executed under the proper guidelines.

The average meeting is horrifically inefficient. It involves too many people, too many touch points, too many questions, and — most importantly — too much time.

No meeting, no matter the significance, should take longer than 30 minutes. I don’t care if it’s about your business, your mortgage, or your child’s education — the meeting itself should be less than a half an hour.

Meetings are not about discussing all the avenues available, they’re about coming together to make decisions. They’re about choosing which road to take, not highlighting all the roads on the map.

Invited parties should be properly briefed before the meeting begins (if you’re hearing about something for the first time in the meeting itself, somebody screwed up) in order to ensure only pertinent matters are discussed.

When everyone has done their homework, I find most meetings can actually be concluded in less than 15 minutes.

Now, there is ONE important exception to my aforementioned stance on meetings and that is in the case of a brainstorming session — which is, quite frankly, an entirely different animal all together. If you’re gathering to hash out new ideas, speculate on future plans, or activate the creative faculties of the collective mind, then go nuts, use as much time as you’d like. Take all day and all night — a good brainstorming session can go for hours and hours.

Just remember that most meetings are not scheduled to brainstorm, they’re scheduled to make decisions.

If you’ve been struggling to adhere to tight timelines as of late, here are my five suggestions to make sure your next meeting is short and sweet…

Try Going For A Walk

Take your meetings and make them mobile. When one of your employees or co-workers wants to chat (be it in-person or over the phone) go for a stroll. Have a predetermined route that takes no more than 30 minutes roundtrip and confine your conversation to the duration of the journey.

Use The Timer On Your Smartphone

Using the timer/alarm on your smartphone is a blunt, effective means of keeping conversations focused and on-point. Clearly state, before the start of the meeting, that when the clock strikes zero you’re gone. For even greaterimpact, employ something more rudimentary like a kitchen timer, or hourglass — the incessant tick-tick-tick of the timer or the passing sand within the hourglass will amplify the sense of urgency in the room and minimize the trivial chit-chat.

Only Meet With People On THEIR Time

Though not always the most practical solution, meeting with people on their time is an incredibly powerful way to keep things as short as possible. By offering to meet with people during their lunch, after 5PM, on the weekend, etc. (those traditional timeslots when no one wants to work), you’ll avoid skip the superfluous and deal strictly in brass tacks.

Keep The Invitations To An Absolute Minimum

Not everyone needs a say — it’s callous but true. In this overly sensitized world, the workplace has too often become an environment of “we need to get everyone’s opinion on this.” The truth is, no you don’t. Having too many cooks in the kitchen will be detrimental to the environment, efficiency, and effectiveness of your meeting. Keep the guest list as small as possible — two people is the dream.

Ask Yourself Why?

The easiest way to keep a meeting concise is to not have it in the first place. Most meetings aren’t actually needed, but ordered and held from a force of habit. Before sending out a batch of invitations or blocking-off chunks of calendar time, ask yourself why do I/we need this meeting? Try and find another way to reach the objective you seek without involving other people.

Are meetings totally dispensable? — no.

As much as I’d like to do away with them entirely, there is always going to be a time and a place…but that time and place is far less frequent than we generally suspect.

So before scheduling your next meeting, make sure it’s:

  1. Absolutely necessary
  2. Taking up no more than 30 minutes of your day

For some further reading, check out Cameron Herold’s great book “Meetings Suck”

Whenever you are ready…here are 4 ways I can help you become more replaceable and grow your business:

1) Join our FREE Facebook Group — The Replaceable Founder

2) Get our FREE Replaceable Founder Mini-Course

3) Come to our next One-Day Intensive “Becoming Replaceable Workshop” in NYC

4) Want to work with us privately? Just answer a few questions and find out if you’re a good fit. Apply Now

How to Screenshot in Real Life

When you are trying to communicate something to a person working remotely I have found that sending a screenshot (a static image of what you are seeing on your computer) or screencast (a video of you doing something on your computer) can mean the difference between crystal clear understanding and total misdirection.

I wanted to tell someone that I didn’t like the title of this article, I can simply screenshot it, annotate it, and everyone is on the same page.

Screencasts are even more helpful when showing someone a process, such as how to delete a file from your desktop.

My favorite tool for doing any kind of screen capture is definitely Cloud App. It makes it so easy, with one keyboard shortcut to grab what you need, the link to the file gets automatically added to your clipboard so you can immediately send it to whomever you need.

But what about in real life?

I realized that there are tons of situations in real life where it would make life so much easier if I could show someone what I need or maybe, what THEY need, in a given situation.

That’s where Skitch comes in.

It’s a mobile app that let’s you screenshot your real life activities. You simply take a picture and then you can annotate the image with labels, arrows, scribbles, and text.

I hid childrens motrin in the stroller in case my mother needed it while watching our kids

I needed to have these three pots moved

So this way everyone is on the same page, and it keeps people accountable. Whether you need to show someone a leak in your ceiling, telling a junk company which bags to remove and which to leave, where you hid the keys to the front door, anything like that, you can reduce errors by using a tool like Skitch.

How Do You Organize?

There’s a question I’ve been asked time and time again and it’s usually some variation of the following:

How do I organize my file hierarchies?

It’s a good question and one that has two different answers — there’s one answer for email, and there’s another answer for everything else.

As it pertains to email, you’re all probably familiar with my opinion:

There should only be THREE folders in your email:

1. Delete

2. Do

3. Defer

That’s it.

But as it pertains to everything else:



Your Hard Drive…

Or — if you’re old fashioned — your filing cabinet…

I’ll simply say this:

You never want to have too much or too little in any file or folder.

To get specific, I quantify too little as less than 20, and too much as more than 100.

When your file or folder has less than 20 items in it, you need to consolidate. Move those items into a similar filing category that can accommodate an absorption.

When your file or folder has more than 100 items in it, then you need to BREAK IT DOWN…by date, subject, file type, it doesn’t matter — do what you think is best.

Obsession with organization is inefficient, but so is sloppiness. When it comes to filing finding the balance is key, and I believe that balance starts with my 20/100 rule.

If you find yourself frequently struggling with file hierarchies and organization in general, here are some additional rules to live by that I highly recommend…


The longer you take to address your filing/organizational problems the worse they’ll get. The worse they get, the more inefficient and frustrated you’ll become.


Categories within the umbrella of your hierarchy are great as long as they aren’t too broad (“documents”) or too specific (“Receipts — April 1st through 7th 2014”). I recommend filing by general topic categories, and going from the broad to the more specific (“Finances à “Receipts” à Q1 2016”).


The 20/100 rule doesn’t just apply to individual files, it applies to subfolders as well. If your umbrella category is “Clients” but more than 100 different client subfolders fall within that categorization, find a way to break them up, like “Clients 2015” and “Clients 2016”.


Whether you find yourself naming individual files or important folders, keep names short and sweet. Don’t take that as a license to forgo detail or specificity, but long names are going to be more of a hindrance than a help, guaranteed. This is especially true if the files/folders named are going to be shared (like a company Dropbox account).


Whatever system you ultimately elect to put in place, it’s important to practice consistency. The rules you create for structuring your file/folder hierarchies need to be just that — rules. Without a diligence and repetition, your dream of having an organized, highly-efficient filing system will never be realized.

Getting organized is never easy — I had to almost die in order to realize the value of organizational efficiency — but it is 100% worth the effort. Try implementing my 20/100 rule today and I promise you’ll start reaping the benefits sooner than you think.

Whenever you are ready…here are 4 ways I can help you become more replaceable and grow your business:

1) Join our FREE Facebook Group — The Replaceable Founder

2) Get our FREE Replaceable Founder Mini-Course

3) Come to our next One-Day Intensive “Becoming Replaceable Workshop” in NYC

4) Want to work with us privately? Just answer a few questions and find out if you’re a good fit. Apply Now

4 Reasons Why Phone Calls Suck

In this era of endless chatter — SMS, iMessage, Slack, Roger, email, Snapchat, GChat, Instagram, there’s one common form of communication that needs to be relegated to the back burner.

And that mode of communication (as you probably predicted from the title) is talking on the phone.

It’s not that talking on the phone needs to be retired completely, but people need to realize talking on the phone is nota wonderfully efficient means of communication, especially when it comes to business.

In fact, there are many, MANY times when talking on the phone is incredibly inefficient.

Just think of all the variables that could inhibit a clean phone call…

  • Conflicting schedules
  • Different time zones
  • Bad cell service
  • Lousy acoustics (ever tried having a phone call in a Manhattan Starbucks at 8AM? — you’ll be better off at a firing range)

Yet everyday entrepreneurs and busy professionals find themselves subjected to the same antiquated request:

Hey, let’s jump on a call.

Why? What’s so wonderful about the phone call? What makes it so pervasive and popular?

I’m guessing here, but it probably has to do with the fact a phone call is the most familiar form of communication in modern business.

The problem is this:

Just because something is the most familiar doesn’t mean it’s the most efficient.

In the 1950s, taking a train across the country to visit family would have been far more familiar to the average American than taking a transcontinental flight, but that didn’t make the train more efficient than the airplane.

(No, it’s not an apples to apples comparison, but it’s not apples to oranges either…More like apples to pears.)

The point is, people need to start accepting the inefficiencies that are inherently tied to arranging and executing a phone call because they’re real, and they’re really slowing down the speed of business.

As an example, hey, let’s jump on a call is a problem I run into ALL the time.

Clients will ask me to sync up with them on the phone — instead of TrelloSlack, etc. — only to discover matching two different schedules to accommodate a 15 or 20 minute conversation is a challenge in and of itself.

So instead of engaging in a form of asynchronous communication (like Roger or Voxer and getting the issue SOLVED ASAP, I can spend a lot of time chasing down clients, desperately trying to find a mutually agreeable time to talk.

And as much as a tool like Calendly can help in theory, what happens if the only time available on the client’s calendar is eight days away?

Or worse, what happens if a call is successfully scheduled but the client doesn’t show because of some last-minute commitment?

Work that could be getting done remains untouched…it’s nothing less than a waste of time.

That’s the beauty of asynchronous communication — it allows for important conversations to take place, but it gives all parties involved the ability to have those conversations on their own terms and schedules.

Again, this isn’t a Let’s Get Rid of the Phone Call campaign…it’s a Let’s Start Re-Thinking the Phone Call campaign.

So before picking up the phone today, take a moment to really think about whether or not the issue at hand actually requires a phone call.

I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the conclusion you come to.

Whenever you are ready…here are 4 ways I can help you become more replaceable and grow your business:

1) Join our FREE Facebook Group — The Replaceable Founder

2) Get our FREE Replaceable Founder Mini-Course

3) Come to our next One-Day Intensive “Becoming Replaceable Workshop” in NYC

4) Want to work with us privately? Just answer a few questions and find out if you’re a good fit. Apply Now

How To Get Your Email Inbox to 0

Originally published on September 3rd, 2015

One of the foundational lessons of Less Doing is the idea of “Inbox Zero” — where we structure our email inbox to be a seamless, consolidated, and chaos-free source of information and communication. And while Inbox Zero is still a valuable maxim and practice, I’m starting to wonder if it’s becoming a little outdated.

Well, not necessarily Inbox Zero, but rather email itself.

“Ari, what are you talking about?” asked everyone reading this blog.

Let me tell you…

What would you do if you couldn’t email at all?

Don’t scoff at the question and dismiss the idea.

When it comes to business communication, I realize email feels as natural and indispensable as breathing. But with the ascension of new technologies like Slack, Trello, and text-based apps, I’m curious to know how “indispensable” email really is?

We’re not there yet, but I suspect the sun may be setting on email as we currently know it. Although new messaging platforms and systems are still in their nascent stages, their deployment could be rapid and widespread, supplanting email sooner than we think (just look at the success Slack has enjoyed in the last two years).

So, if email was no longer in the equation, what would you do? — Thrive or perish? How would you position your business to adapt?

It’s an important question to consider for the future.

Now before your internal alarm bells start ringing, understand that:

  1. The continued evolution of business communication is a good thing
  2. This change isn’t happening tomorrow — you have time to get ready
  3. Revisiting item #1 — this is a good thing!

I welcome the possibility of an email-less tomorrow. As it stands right now, email is often an awkward bridge between the long-form past (think — lengthy, handwritten letters) and an increasingly short-form future (think — LOL, NNR, IMO, BRB, THX). Furthermore, email addresses — as we all well know — are subject to being bombarded with all varieties of unwanted, inbox-clogging digital clutter.

The nice thing about text-based applications and Slack-like services is that they beautifully collate your messages and operate smoothly from your smartphone. They are also private, permission-only, and feature an astounding array of helpful integrations.

So what’s the takeaway?

Email isn’t going away in the short term, that much is a given. But, as new technologies continue to emerge, my money is on a sustained decline in reliance and general usage.

Where that leads, it’s impossible to know, but we should all get our businesses ready for an Email Zero future. Remember, those who fail to prepare, prepare to fail.

Whenever you are ready…here are 4 ways I can help you become more replaceable and grow your business:

1) Join our FREE Facebook Group — The Replaceable Founder

2) Get our FREE Replaceable Founder Mini-Course

3) Come to our next One-Day Intensive “Becoming Replaceable Workshop” in NYC

4) Want to work with us privately? Just answer a few questions and find out if you’re a good fit. Apply Now

The Only Tools You Need For Fast and Easy Communication

As business owners, finding the room to really look at your company can be a challenge.

We spend so much time working in our business that we don’t have the time to sit down and analyze it.

We know there are inefficiencies.

We know there are problems.

But finding the bandwidth to actually identify the root of those problems, why they’re there, and how we can fix them is a challenge.

That’s one of the perks of starting Less Doing — looking at your business is my business, which means I can devote the time to look at what’s really happening with you.

I’ve noticed a particular pattern among our clients. A pattern that stretches across industries, geographies, and depth of expertise and it’s invariably the type of issues our clients most frequently ask us to resolve for them.

About four out of every five issues — be they tech, team, tool, or process-related are directly tied to the quality of internal communication. Based upon what I can see, the excessive and maddeningly inefficient use of email is at the heart of the problem.

Email needs to be reserved, almost exclusively, for external communication. If it’s a conversation that should be happening behind closed company doors, only use email as a fail-safe, last resort.

Instead, try using the two tools I recommend above all others:

Slack and Trello

Slack and Trello are absolute game-changers!

Slack is the perfect tool for collaboration. It allows for direct, 1-on-1 conversations as well as on-going group discussions with multiple participants. Slack can also be paired with numerous apps and bots that take its versatility to astonishing heights.

Trello is a project management tool par-excellence. It’s simple, clean, and outrageously intuitive. When communication — be it a comment, question, or marching order — is tied to a specific project, it should be directly added to the project’s profile in Trello. At Less Doing, doing this enables us to stay unbelievably organized — everyone knows the exact state of a project and any given time.

Slack and Trello have 10x’d our ability to conduct business at Less Doing, and those results have been mirrored in every client we’ve migrated to these two tools.

Now, having said all that, there is a critical caveat to pay attention to:

If Slack and Trello aren’t properly set up, your communication will not improve, you will just have another tool your team is reluctant to use.

Remember — as phenomenal as Slack and Trello are, they (like email) are tools, and tools can either be helpful or harmful. So when you’re employing new communications and project management technologies, it is absolutely imperative to look before you leap — think about the best way to use your tools before using them.

Don’t create a Slack channel that only has one member

Don’t build a Trello board with only one card.

Be strategic in laying the groundwork and you’ll be strategic in the eventual execution.

Whenever you are ready…here are 4 ways I can help you become more replaceable and grow your business:

1) Join our FREE Facebook Group — The Replaceable Founder

2) Get our FREE Replaceable Founder Mini-Course

3) Come to our next One-Day Intensive “Becoming Replaceable Workshop” in NYC

4) Want to work with us privately? Just answer a few questions and find out if you’re a good fit. Apply Now