A 2021 study by Reclaim.ai found that since the COVID-induced shift to working-from-home, the average business professional attends 70% more meetings weekly than in 2018. In 2021 professionals spent almost half their official work week in virtual meetings: 21.5 hours! The reason for this is obvious to anybody who has been caught up in this trend: What you used to be able to resolve with a quick hallway conversation with a co-worker now has become a scheduled meeting. With all these extra meetings, it can be difficult to get any “real work” done.
How can you avoid having your calendar swamped with back to back meetings? The age-old advise of “Plan for the worst and hope for the best” works for meetings, too. Try doing some of these tips to gain focus-time back into your work week:
- Block in one-hour increments: Schedule regular meetings for one hour and ones that require more discussion for two hours. While this runs counter to the prevailing thought that if you schedule for 30 minutes, you finish in 30 minutes, the reality is that the majority of web-meetings take longer than 30 minutes to complete. By giving yourself an hour, you avoid running over your meeting time and being late to your next meeting. If you should finish in a half-hour, you just reclaimed 30 minutes for yourself!
- Leave 15-minute grace periods: Instead of scheduling meetings to begin on the top or the bottom of the hour, schedule the meetings to begin 15 minutes after the scheduled end of the prior meeting. For example, meeting 1 runs from 9:00 – 10:00. Meeting 2 runs from 10:15 – 11:15. Meeting 3 runs from 11:30 – 12:30. This gives you a 15 minute cushion. If your meeting runs late, you can still be on time to the next one. If your meeting ends on time, you have time to take a “bio-break” before the next one starts.
- Enact No-Meeting Mondays: Probably the most difficult to do is to reserve one day as a formal work day with no meetings. Use this to catch up on all the work you have been trying to get done. If you have a shared calendar, consider putting a “Busy” appointment for most of the work day so others do not schedule your free time.
Being present and focused in meetings can be mentally and physically draining. To keep physically fit, most experts recommend balancing exercise days with rest days. Similarly, to keep you mentally fit and at maximum productivity, you should leave some quiet time in your work day and week.
Looking for more ideas for how to make your staff or yourself more productive? Contact Comprehensive Learning Solutions to learn more about our team training options.