The default way of dealing with bad meetings is to pick up the phone and check social media, Slack, or mail. This has become an even bigger problem in times of online meetings.
And it’s not even specific to meetings. People watch movies while surfing Instagram. Attend conference talks while replying to mail. Meet with their friends in the park while at the same time meeting with other friends on Snapchat.
Here’s a rule of thumb that has proven very useful for me: If an activity doesn’t feel worth my full attention, I change the activity – rather than add another activity.
If the meeting isn’t working, change the meeting.
If the conference is a waste of time, leave (which is especially easy with online conferences).
If the movie is boring, turn it off (or watch a different one).
If the conversation with your friends is leading nowhere, give it a direction.