You’ve experienced it — You’re on a roll, getting some productive work done, feeling that sense of momentum and flow, when suddenly your phone buzzes an alert, or your assistant pops their head in the door to remind you. You have a meeting. So you stop work, grab a notepad, and head to the conference room, fully aware that you’re about to waste a couple of hours of time. Is there a better way? Maybe it’s time to consider declaring one day a week a meeting-free day.
Why Should You Institute a Meeting-Free Day at Work?
Meetings are a waste of time — or at least that’s what many people feel. A study by Atlassian showed that employees consider half the meetings they attend to be a waste, while a massive survey by Microsoft revealed that 69 percent of workers globally think meetings are unproductive uses of their time. Many workers complain that meetings drain their energy as well as their time.
Regular meeting-free days clear your employees’ calendars to focus on the tasks they need to accomplish, boosting productivity overall. They simplify scheduling, since team members know they’ll always have a clear time to work together on projects. If you’re encouraging employees to work from home as a way of minimizing commute time or offering the workplace bonus of flex time, meeting-free days align perfectly with those goals.
Some workplaces, in fact, have days like "Meeting Monday," insisting that all the week’s meetings be packed into that one day. As a result, their meetings are insanely productive, with everyone working at top speed and making decisions without unnecessary drag-it-out discussions.
How to Start a Weekly Meeting-Free Day
Scheduling a regular meeting-free day can be tougher than you’d expect, thanks to all the time demands placed on you by other people. To make it work, start by blocking off one day — let’s say Thursdays — on your calendar. Don’t schedule anything on Thursdays, and don’t let your assistant, team members, or anyone else do so. If you’re the boss, tell your staff that they, too, need to block off Thursdays. If people from outside your workplace want to meet on a Thursday, simply tell them you’re unavailable.
You can amplify your productivity even further by altering your location as well. Maybe Thursday will now become the day you work from home or from a nearby coffee shop or co-working space. Plan the work you’re going to do on meeting-free Thursday, focusing on big projects rather than pesky tasks like cleaning up your email. In fact, you might even want to post your out-of-office message to block emails as well.
How to Make Your Meeting-Free Day Productive
Plan for your meeting-free Thursday (or whatever day you choose) to help it be as productive as possible. When you calendar specific projects to work on, as well as tasks to accomplish to advance those projects, you set yourself up for success. If your entire team or workplace is experiencing meeting-free Thursday together, make sure everyone’s on the same page, perhaps holding a brief meeting (yes, it’s okay!) the day before to assign tasks or tweak assignments.
On meeting-free Thursday, create the most productive environment possible. Encourage employees to bring in their personal playlists and headphones, since music often helps people work efficiently and happily. Allow everyone to work on their own schedule as much as possible, coming in late (or early), setting their own hours, and even taking a prolonged break during the day as long as the proposed tasks are being accomplished on schedule.
Talk to your employees to work out the details of implementing your meeting-free day to make sure you’re meeting everyone’s needs and maximizing productivity.