We look at how avoiding meetings can actually make you more productive. Take back your week with a meeting-free day!
Have you been struggling with your workload since you’ve been stuck in meetings all week? Then you’re having to stay up late or work weekends to catch up? Meetings are a cultural norm in business and in the event industry, where flexible schedules and working from home are also common, but they offer a way for everyone to sync up, come together, and get on the same page. However, they can also be a real time-sucking task that everyone wants to avoid because they can hinder your productivity and motivation for the day. Microsoft conducted a productivity survey and found that out of 38,000 participants, 71% of U.S. workers felt they didn’t have productive meetings and yet, spent over 5 and half hours per week attending them. So why are we letting them dictate our working weeks?
The solution seems easy - simply have fewer meetings - however event organizers have a lot of people clamoring for their time. That is why we are suggesting designating one meeting-free day per week. On this day you say no to any meetings and instead focus on elements that are more important - like actually planning your events. This is a much more realistic starting point for eventprofs.
The Benefits Of Going Meeting Free
Increased Focus – Without having to change your mindset from social, to work and focusing on different projects at once (as well as other people’s priorities) you will quickly find that you can knuckle down and pay attention to what you need. There are many tasks that require focus and can take three times as long if your mental processes are interrupted and meetings are one of the ways this happens. Going meeting-free can help you add depth and dimension to your work, allowing you to focus on the finer details that make an impact at an event rather than the auto pilot you usually only have time for.
Boosted Productivity – Since it’s taking you less time to complete work because you aren’t being interrupted and you are working on your own processes, your productivity is increased. The more you complete and the more motivation you derive from this, the more productive you become.This is an effective cycle that can see you scrubbing more things off your to-do list in one day than you usually do all week in between meeting interruptions.
Time Saving – This should be self-explanatory because not only are you saving time traveling to and from meetings, and the time spent in the meetings itself, but also from the preparation and mental shift required from your actual work. Think about everything you need to do to prepare for a meeting as well as what happens afterwards. Your priorities shift because new tasks come to light and generally you end up with more work to add to your to-do list, whether it is your own or someone else’s. Meetings have a nasty habit of creating more work than they solve, particularly in bigger teams focusing on larger projects which makes you feel like you are back to where you started, and that doesn’t even consider the time that’s wasted if a meeting runs long.
A meeting-free day gives you a lot of this time back and also allows others more time to think through whether they need to give you a task or not rather than just allocating it because you are there. This will also save time in the long-term as the team as a whole becomes more conscientious.
Picking The Best Meeting-Free Day
The best meeting-free day can depend on your work culture and attitude within your organization and it is essential that your meeting-free day isn’t going to waste so here’s a rundown of why you should and shouldn’t select each day. As an event planner you might also want to think about which days of the week most of your events take place.
Monday – This is the beginning of the week and for many, the hardest day to get motivated. The idea of meetings on a Monday can be daunting and also requires you to get into ‘work mode’ on a Sunday evening as you prepare for what you need to bring and say, particularly for a meeting first thing in the morning. Meeting-free Mondays can allow eventprofs to ease into their week and know exactly what is on their agenda each week, not only leaving Sunday work-free but also boosting motivation and productivity. No more dragging your heels to get into work for the start of the week! However, meetings on a Monday can make sure everyone is on the right page to continue through the week and it’s where a lot of weekly task allocation takes place.
Tuesday/Thursday – These are generic middle days so they can be a low-key place to start with as a meeting-free day. They tend to be the days where people like to knuckle down and get most of their work done after the weekend and before the next one, particularly if they are feeling behind. Either of these days would be an excellent meeting-free choice but may not have as much impact as they tend to be pretty productive on their own.
Wednesday – Wednesday is also known as hump day because it is right in the middle of the week and the day you need to get through in order to see to the other side! This could be an excellent way to make Wednesdays more bearable and by removing meetings on this day you can make them feel shorter and more productive, therefore boosting motivation and productivity for the rest of the week. This is a great day, particularly if you have had meetings since Monday!
Friday – This is the end of the week which means people are tired, tend to want to go home early, and lose focus by thinking of the weekend and their plans which can be both good and bad. Meetings on a Friday can often go in one ear and out the other as everyone is switched off and they tend to be less interactive because they don’t want meetings to run over and go home late as they are more likely to have plans. A meeting-free Friday is a great, morale-boosting start to the weekend and allows everyone to catch up with their work and finish each week on a good note. That being said, you need to ask if the meeting-free day will be put to the best use here. Will people use this day to procrastinate if there is no pressure to attend meetings?
Tips To Implementing Your Meeting-Free Day
- Commit – It won’t work if you start compromising on this day. Meeting-free means no meetings at all and in general interactions should be kept to a minimum -- no lunch meetings or quick catch-ups, as this is a day to focus on your workload, be productive, and see a change in your routine. Help yourself by blocking out this time in your calendar and ensuring that people know you aren’t available on this specific day. If you can, you could also opt to work-from-home so that you can’t be snuck up on in the office.
- Make Meetings More Valuable – If you are reducing the amount of meetings you are having then it stands to reason that you should turbocharge the meetings you are having, making them more valuable and effective. Look at changes that you can make to your current meeting layout and how you can make them more effective as well as keeping them interesting and engaging!
- Plan Your Day – You have an entire day to tick things off your to-do list, so use it wisely! How are you going to spend your time and what is worth focusing your efforts on? Try to get tasks done that take a long time and a lot of concentration as well as those that are a high priority. Write your goals out in the morning so you are clear on what you want to achieve. Remember not to overload this day, as you can only do so much so be reasonable and realistic and you will find that you will feel more accomplished and motivated by the end of the day with your achievements.
- Ignore The Routine – Make sure you aren’t wasting your meeting-free day on emails and routine tasks that you can do every other day. Set your out of office reply or make sure that everyone knows to call you for anything urgent. Emails can wait until the end of the day!
- Be Transparent – Tell others of your intentions or if you are a manager, make this the team norm so that you aren’t fighting requests to allocate your time. Be honest and explain that this is a meeting-free day, that you are unavailable during this day, and that you can schedule for any other time during the week. This will help you to avoid hesitating or giving in as well as feeling like you need to make up an excuse to justify it.
Remember meeting-free days are only a starting point and you should focus on ensuring that you only have productive and necessary meetings otherwise it can be a drain on resources and morale. In addition, constantly evaluate your meeting design to make it more interactive and interesting as well as ensuring they are absolutely necessary and you’ll be getting the perfect balance! Keeping a meeting-free day can only be beneficial to overall productivity and creativity and within your teams.