Let’s face it. Meetings are important and extremely necessary but we all burn out and need a break. The dynamics of a meeting from planning to preparing to participating naturally create stress and take up headspace that we need to conserve for many different work activities. And the time commitment is greater than merely the meeting itself.
As contributors, we can try to find ways to minimize the noise to shake things up a bit to give ourselves a break from time to time but as leaders, it is critical we create a culture that is considerate of meeting and routine overload, creating opportunities that enable the potential for improved mental health, wellness, and an overall feeling of success.
With March providing us with a National Day of Unplugging, let’s explore some ways we can break from the norm through slight changes to meeting habits that can help our teams recharge and refocus.
While any chance to meet face to face can be healthy for a team, there are some meetings that probably didn’t have to be meetings, like Standups. Standups are a great way for a team to kick start their day and all be on the same page but why not have a virtual standup here and there that allows the team to check in with their status without having to actually meet?
Poll for Necessity
Sometimes we have a meeting because we feel we have to. If you only get to meet with someone bi-weekly, for example, you may feel that you need the meeting to “stay connected” or “in case anything comes up.” But for the cost of time and resource, we should rethink the – just because – and realize there is a better behavior through communication.
TRY THIS: Prior to a meeting, ask or poll meeting guests if they have anything they wish to discuss that should be on the agenda. If there is little to discuss, check the time-sensitivity and see if it can be handled outside the meeting or at the next meeting. If there is little to nothing to discuss, hit that delete button and give everyone their time back.
Change the Date
Standing meetings typically occur on the same day and time and are blocked on the calendar in advance to ensure the time is available on a regular basis. But if the meeting organizer plans ahead, shifting the day or time here and there for a team meeting can make a difference for a team who gets into a rut or has a heavy workload that should not be interrupted.
TRY THIS: Shake things up a bit by moving a recurring meeting to another day or time to enable your team to focus on their work and reduce disruption.
Schedule Morning or Afternoon
Many of us get our assigned work done around meetings. This means we have, at times, 30 to 60-minute blocks to do something before and between meetings which is not always enough for work that is challenging to start and stop. Switching gears and context from meeting to meeting can be disruptive when concentration is needed.
TRY THIS: Schedule meetings in the first or second half of the day to enable your team larger blocks of time to focus and concentrate.
Create a No Meeting Day
This is nothing new as it has been a favored tool for teams like product development so they are guaranteed one day a week without interruption. But many others can benefit from a “no meeting day” as well.
TRY THIS: Work with your team to identify a day of the week where they could benefit from a no meeting day and give it a try. If communication in some form is still critical, use a chat tool or a meeting tool like Docket that can still help your team be productive when they are not in a formalized meeting session.
Enabling your team to have more focus time will help them learn to communicate in a way that maximizes time together and will provide some calm among the chaos so they can get more work done in and outside of meetings.