Sewing, and things to do during that boring meeting

Over at BNET this week, I followed up on last week’s musings on 22 Things To Do During That Boring Conference Call with two related posts: 19 Things To Do During That Boring Meeting, and Work From Home? What You Can Do During That Boring Conference Call.

This theme of posts has been a bit more popular than I wish it was. It seems that many organizations persist in organizing calls that didn’t need to happen, and in scheduling meetings with all hands even though all hands are not required. It’s so short-sighted from a management perspective, because if your employees are sitting, bored, in a meeting, pondering questions like what they’d do if they won the lottery, they are not executing against organizational goals. And isn’t that what you hired them to do?

One suggestion for something to do during a boring conference call (suggested by multiple folks) is to knit or sew. This could, in theory, be the perfect thing to do during a boring meeting as well, with your hands occupied, and you still listening. But as with sewing at church, it’s generally frowned upon. And I think you’d have to be incredibly comfortable with your career trajectory (or male) to open the can of worms associated with knitting or sewing in a professional environment.

But I was reminded last night of just how zen sewing can be when I found myself undertaking a DIY home project. Home ownership is one giant black hole of time. My bedroom curtains are just one small detail of all this, but it was a detail coming after a day of waiting for the Verizon guy to come rehook our phones, which weren’t working because they’re wired through the alarm system for some reason, and the alarm system broke. I had a carpentry team over taking measurements for the book cases, and we’re trying to get a plumber to fix a toilet and possibly the water heater and… mixed in all this, my new drapes are 96 inches, but the existing curtain rods are hung at around 92 inches. I could have taken them to a tailor. But I said the hell with it, got out my sewing needle and thread and started hemming them myself.

It’s already taken me 90 minutes to do two 50 inch panels by hand. No doubt the other panels will take close to 45 minutes each too. Clearly, a professional tailor could do this much faster (not to mention the shop would own a sewing machine). I’m definitely not saving money by doing it myself, when you consider the cost of time. But there was nothing in the house I felt like reading, so there I was, zoning out with my needle and thread, contemplating whether I could make my own throw pillows as well.

9 thoughts on “Sewing, and things to do during that boring meeting

  1. Yes, home ownership can be a black hole of time. Though I find it hard to picture you doing something that you could’ve paid someone else to do, it’s wonderful that you were able to enjoy it so much. Maybe there’s some pre-baby nesting going going on?

  2. Ahh nesting, totally think it is biological — I ripped out everything in the house pre baby #2.
    It is sad people are in meetings and on calls they don’t need to be and great for those of us who aren’t who are trying to do work and family to know that maybe 10 or more hours a week of other stuff that goes on at a job job is not really work.. I think that men would be better fathers if the overall culture of work would change and also they would also be asked as fathers first to do the same time analysis we working moms have done to be so very productive post children. Would = better fathers, more productive offices.
    ALSO I ReAD ABOUT A STUDY THAT SHOWS THAT folks remember more when they doodle while listening so doodling is another great brain booster could be done on conference call.. and doodling for IQ points is great for those of us who have toddlers and find ourselves doodling anyway… I also read that doodling or drawing is great for stress and builds happiness!

    1. I talked with some older colleagues about this and they said the culture was changing and improving in the late ’90’s, as competition for people increased, but the recession has brought the old facetime culture back with even more demand for electronic availability.

  3. One of the things that most frustrated me about the corporate world was the importance of face time and availability. It matters far more to how you are perceived than what you actually accomplish. Of course, availability (and some face time) IS important to team work, but if everyone on the team is similarly minded, you don’t have to be at work at the same time ALL THE TIME. Unfortunately, in a corporate culture with extreme competition for jobs with health insurance (yes, we all have graduate degrees in science/engineering and were highly ranked academically) availability becomes a distinguishing performance characteristic.

    I had a job where I had to spend several hours (12+ hr days) testing software on a multimillion dollar tool and waiting for it to fail. (The software’s response to a robot handling issue, not the software itself, was the root of the problem, which is why it took so long.) My (all male) colleagues were mildly amused when I embroidered a pillowcase to match my couch in the evenings but they didn’t seem to look down on it. It required enough attention that you couldn’t read or do anything too absorbing, but looking up between stitches was sufficient.

    1. Twin Mom: I encourage you to try entrepreneurship– no face time and infinite return possibility. If you are well educated and motivated entrepreneurship is a great way to make sure you are not on useless conference calls!

      1. I’ve started some contract writing. The problem in our area is high unemployment and no funding. I would not be good at home parties- don’t have the desire or personality to network in that way. I’m interested in suggestions. I appreciate y’all on this blog!

  4. In the book, The Breakout Principle, the author, Herbert Benson, M.D., tells of some well known male executives who knit, do petit point, etc to relieve stress and relax so the million dollar ideas come to them. He didn’t do it to clear his mind to improve idea generation, but Rosie Greer,the huge football lineman, was well known for doing needle point to relieve stress. If they can do it and research confirms the effect, why can’t we?

    1. @Lucia: Good to know men use sewing/needle crafts to zone out too… It’s just a matter of knowing your audience. If you work in a macho culture that’s already judging women harshly, knitting might send a signal you don’t wish to send. Or maybe it does! It’s just a matter of understanding how other people will interpret things.

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