Every Sunday, we hold a 15-minute meeting that has drastically improved our relationship, both in our business and personal life. We call it a “Weekly Stand-Up.”
What is a Weekly Stand-Up?
The name “stand-up” just means that the meeting should be brief enough that everyone can stand through its entirety. It’s common lingo in the corporate world of engineers and developers who meet weekly or daily to sync on all the tasks that need to get done. While we don’t always stand during our own Weekly Stand-Up, we do try to keep the meeting under 20 minutes.
What happens during the meeting is pretty simple. We go through a list of action items and write them in a shared Google document. We bucket the tasks into different categories: personal, our marketing business, and anything related to Making It in Asheville. Together, we record anything and everything that’s on our minds.
For example, under “Personal” we might put “Take the car for an oil change” or “Call health insurance company about XYZ.” Under “Marketing Business,” we go through administrative tasks that are on our mind such as making sure we follow-up with a client about a proposal or scheduling a time to prepare for a meeting with our logo designer.
The point isn’t to think through every tiny detail, but rather to see the big picture of what needs to get done, when, and by who.
Why Does This Work for Us?
Holding weekly stand-up meetings is helpful to us for several reasons:
- It ensures that we don’t miss anything.
We help remind each other what needs to get done. Sometimes one of us will think of something that the other one forgot or simply didn’t think of.
- It provides a time and place to talk about action items.
Rather than interrupting each other throughout our work week with surprises like, “Hey honey can you take the car to get an oil change?” or “Hey honey can you help review this proposal before I send it?” we’re able to get it all out during a designated time. We both know that if we are aware ahead of time about something, we’re better prepared to help. We can set aside the time to do the task rather than feel a grudge about it because one of us surprised the other with an unexpected to-do list item mid-way through the week.
- It helps us prioritize what needs to get done, when, and by who.
By building a list of all these things, we can decide together what’s the most pressing and important and delegate who will do what. And since we keep it in a shared doc, we’re able to look back throughout the week to remind ourselves.
- It keeps us accountable.
If we get to the end of the week and things have gotten done that we said we’d do, we’re able to clearly see what’s still outstanding. This constructive pressure means that we’re more likely to get it done than if it was just floating somewhere in our minds.
- It catches new ideas as they come up.
Although this isn’t meant to be a brainstorming session, it often brings up new ideas! If one of us thinks of something brilliant (or semi-brilliant), we can write it down and store it away for later so we don’t forget.
In short, setting aside just 15-20 minutes per week helps us be more productive all week long.
How to Host a Weekly Stand-Up
There is no right or wrong way to host a weekly stand-up meeting (except for maybe letting it run too long), but what we can do is tell you what works for us and how we ourselves do it.
- Schedule 15-20 minutes the same day and time every week.
Put it on the calendar and make sure all attendees are aware of the meeting and know they need to show up.
- Delegate one person as the note taker and one person as the meeting leader.
They might be the same person or they could be different, but we often find that whoever is taking notes is able to lead the meeting because they have the tasks in front of them.
- Use a shared document or make sure that you share the notes from the meeting with everyone involved right after the meeting.
We like using a shared Google document that we both have access to sot hat we can refer to it throughout the week and cross items off our list or make notes as we do them.
- Create buckets or categories to make tasks more manageable.
For us, we bucket by areas of our life (personal vs. business) because it’s easier for us to think of things that way. But you could also bucket by the person who is responsible for carrying out the task.
- Go through each category and task items as quickly as you can. The goal is to decide: what is the action, who needs to do it, and when it needs to get done. Use verbs, not nouns, where possible. For example, “Blog post” is more nebulous than ”Create an outline for Thursday’s blog post.” If deciding those details seems like too much to do in this quick little meeting, then the action item is to schedule a separate meeting to discuss it in more detail.
- End the meeting with a brief recap.
Everyone can go around and say what they will work on this week and when they will get it done. For example, “I’ll take the car to get an oil change before Friday and I’ll schedule a call with XYZ on Tuesday.”
After the meeting, we usually like to take 5 or 10 minutes to schedule any items on our calendar while it’s all still fresh in our minds.
It’s a simple activity, but it has truly helped us stay in open communication with one another. Even though we live together and are together all the time, we don’t always communicate about everything that’s going on in our lives. By setting aside just a few minutes every week, we’re able to capture our action items in one place which makes for a lot more productive week and life.