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Welcome to Weird Word Wednesday, a wonderful time when words highlight the folly in our lives.

Today’s word is karoshi, a Japanese word meaning “death caused by overwork or job-related exhaustion.”

This morning I was listening to Dave and Carole at 96.5 WLKH in Milwaukee. They discussed the Wall Street Journal‘s article “New Office Flashpoint: Who Gets the Conference Room?”


Seems there are way too many meetings in corporate America, with all sorts of people abusing conference room privileges: they kick out underlings, overstay their allotted time, or take up temporary residence, treating the room as if it’s their personal office.

Sounds stressful, doesn’t it? Thankfully, all this isn’t causing karoshi in the halls, or at least not that I’ve heard of. But I can see how all this bad behavior could contribute to job-related exhaustion.

Sometimes meetings are unproductive and unnecessary

Is this your office?

Dave and Carole shared a statistic that said meetings shouldn’t have more than seven people and last longer than 90 minutes. That’s about 60 minutes too long for me!

The WSJ article went on to say that “senior executives are spending an average (of) 28 hours in meetings each week, and middle managers spend about 21 hours.” That’s enough to cause karoshi by itself!

In “5 Simple Steps to More Efficient, Effective Meetings,” Victor Lipman goes further, suggesting that preparation and a pared-down attendee list go a long way toward streamlining meetings.

My favorite item on Lipman’s list is #4: Don’t start one second late. Stragglers will soon get the idea that the world will keep spinning without them, and you’ll develop a reputation for promptness.

No speaking meeting

What kinds of meeting mismanagement is your office prone to?

Is this causing exhaustive karoshi?