Companies take every precaution to protect their tangible assets. They install security systems to protect inventory in the warehouse and etch identification numbers into office equipment. Oddly enough, companies rarely take precautions to protect their most valuable resource: employees and their time. "No meeting days" are one way everyone in an organization can protect some (or a lot) of their schedule.
The Toll of Nonstop Business Meetings
I see the mental and physical toll nonstop meetings take on my coaching clients. It puts people in a vicious cycle:
When people spend a significant portion of their time in meetings, they have little time to actually do real work.
They start to think, “If I can just run faster, I’ll get caught up,” so they work longer hours, evenings and weekends trying to get more accomplished.
They eventually burn out. Their work-life imbalance starts to affect their personal relationships. Their confidence level starts to decline and it will eventually affect their health, increasing absenteeism and turnover in the office.
But they still can’t get their jobs done, so they keep repeating this cycle over and over again.
Why Meetings Take Such a Toll
People just aren’t built to live with the stress caused by nonstop meetings. Here are a few reasons why jam-packed schedules are so difficult:
- Not all meetings are useful. In fact, research has shown that people who attend a lot of meetings rate about half of them as being a waste of time. According to some experts, that means that employees spend approximately 31 frustrating hours a month in meetings that don’t support the completion of their mission.
- Interruptions cause people to waste even more time. When you’re fully focused on completing a task, psychologists label that a flow state or being “in the zone.” When you are interrupted by a meeting, it takes an average of 23 minutes to get back into the zone.
- The human brain needs time to switch between activities. The brain needs to disengage from one thing, process the information it has received and then prepare for the next activity. When someone is changing activities frequently, they’re not as effective in any of the things they’re trying to do.
You can do the math to figure out how much time a person spends in the zone working on their priority tasks if they have several meetings scheduled each day.
The Value of a “No Meeting Day”
Setting aside one day per week where no formal meetings are scheduled will give the entire company some breathing space. Employees will have the chance to stay in the zone for long periods. They’ll have the time to be creative and to complete work that makes a difference to the company’s success.
A “no meeting day” doesn’t mean that there is no interaction. Teams may choose to get together informally in pairs or small groups to resolve an issue preventing further progress. However, people revel in having an entire day that isn’t schedule-driven. Companies that have established a “no meeting day" have seen significant increases in employee satisfaction and productivity.
This story originally appeared on fairygodboss.com.
Wanda Sealy created Multi-Task-Her Coaching and Consulting Services to assist ambitious working mothers like herself. An experienced coach, Wanda has an uncanny ability to help women identify and address the core issues that are holding them back, allowing them to be the inspired and empowered people they were born to be. If all you have are questions, Wanda will help you find the answers. To learn more about Wanda and her company visit www.multitaskher.com or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.