As more businesses transition online, people have been sending meeting invites left and right. It’s nearly impossible to get through a single working day without being invited to a meeting or having to sit through one. Considering that half of all meetings are considered a waste of time by their participants, a day full of meetings isn’t exactly the best use of everyone’s time.
If you’re looking to cut down on the 31 hours a month that are spent in unproductive meetings, you should consider adopting a no-meeting day at least once a week. This is a relatively new concept, but one that’s quickly gaining traction as employees and leadership teams are realizing that it cuts back on the number of meetings they’ll have to face.
In this article, we’ll be discussing no-meeting days, explaining what they are, and why you should consider adopting them into your work week. By the end of this article, you’ll be able to answer the following:
Let’s get started.
As you could have probably guessed from its title, a no-meeting day is one day out of the week where no one is allowed to schedule meetings. Whether they’re team meetings, the days when recurring meetings are meant to occur, or near deadlines, the day must be meeting-free.
Instead of moving between meetings all day, a no-meeting day will allow your team to get on with their own tasks. This provides a valuable break in the middle of the week that facilitates focused work. Additionally, the ability for your team to stay flexible during this day — working on whatever they’d like — inspires a higher quality of problem-solving and productivity.
As employees have an entire day to themselves, they are more likely to focus on their essential tasks. Typically, no-meeting days are coupled with team meetings the following day. Within these next-day meetings, you’ll be able to share new ideas, give status updates, and chat about what progress was made yesterday.
Take a look at this team meeting agenda that will set you on the right path for the day after.
One no-meeting day a week is normally enough, allowing your team to focus on their work without having to constantly switch between disparate tasks.
We’re not suggesting that you take up a no-meeting day without reason. Especially considering the various benefits of team and one-on-one meetings, we’re definitely not saying that you should eliminate meetings altogether.
However, one meeting-free day a week will boost your office’s productivity, allowing everyone to take a break and stay focused longer. Due to the context switching that moving in and out of meetings entails, up to 67% of workers suggest that meetings get in the way of them doing work. That’s not to mention the number of unproductive meetings there are, further setting your employees off track.
After you implement a no-meeting day into your week, you’ll be able to gain some substantial benefits for your team. We’ll be discussing how no-meeting days can lead to:
Let’s break down these benefits.
Whether you call it getting in the zone or moving into a flow state, uninterrupted periods of work allow you to get more done in a shorter amount of time. Instead of stopping and starting, you’ll be able to focus directly on one task for a longer period.
By blocking out an entire day of no meetings, not only will you allow your team to get into this flow state more easily, but you’ll also help them complete more complicated work. Setting out time to work on one complex task during these no-meeting days could be the push your employees need to tackle the most difficult items on their agendas.
The average employee only spends 3 minutes working before having to code-switch to a different task. This could be because they've decided to check their emails, or simply because they’ve got to get ready for an upcoming meeting. No matter what their distraction is, it ruins any chance of completing deep work during that period.
By introducing mandated no-meeting days, you’ll be able to help your team perform to the very best of their abilities.
A Gallup Survey taken by 7,500 full-time employees saw 23% of them claiming to feel burned out at work either always or very often. With dangerously high numbers of burnout, this no-meeting day could be the break your employees need.
No-meeting days aren’t actual breaks, but they allow workers to get things done in whatever way they would like. Instead of having someone managing them at all hours of the day, they’ll be able to structure and fill their day with whatever order of work they choose. Without meetings at regular intervals, they can adapt their schedules however they would like.
This additional freedom — even just choosing when to take a lunch break — could be the independence that your employees are seeking.
Meeting-free days act as reset buttons within your employees’ work weeks. Instead of having a schedule that’s jam-packed with meeting after meeting, they can take a whole day off from endlessly chatting.
While the main benefits of this no-meeting day are the freedom and time to focus on deep work, it’s also a great way to give people a break from meetings. This break will mean that they’ll come in the next day feeling completely refreshed. Especially if you have regular meetings throughout the rest of the week, this change of schedule can even lead them to feel excited walking into their next meeting.
A bit of uninterrupted time away will help boost your team productivity and help employee engagement when meetings resume. Conducting a calendar audit and looking at when most of your meetings are will help you pick the right days for your no-meeting days and help give everyone a needed break.
One of the biggest productivity trends of 2021 was time blocking. Time blocking is the act of setting out blocks of time within which you will only do one form of task. For example, from 9-11, you might write content, then from 11-12, you might edit, and from 12-1, you might schedule that morning’s writing to be uploaded.
Instead of focusing on a project as a whole and carrying out the individual aspects, you’ll be able to group similar tasks together. Considering that humans aren’t particularly good at multitasking, this will significantly boost your productivity.
A no-meeting day is a perfect opportunity for time blocking, with the ability to cancel meetings on that day, meaning that no one will be interrupted. With this free time schedule, your employees will be able to get on with actual work, performing sessions of focused work instead of having to stop and start to join their next meeting.
These no-meeting days are the perfect way to tackle complex problems, helping your team avoid constant interruptions and more effectively get on with their work.
Whether you’re just going to be trialing a no-meeting day or you want to incorporate them into your weekly schedules, you should make sure to alert your team ahead of time. These no-meeting days most frequently take place on either Tuesdays or Wednesdays, because this allows for a space before and after the day to resume meetings and discuss progress.
While many teams will jump at the opportunity of a meeting-free day, some may be at odds about where to begin with their work. If you think your team might fall into that second batch, then we’d recommend setting a rough agenda for them.
You can split your daily schedule into parts, blocking out a few hours at a time for your employees to get specific tasks done. Instead of internal meetings on their calendar, they’ll see things like, ‘work on X project.’ This additional information will help the average employee that needs a little guidance without the structure of meetings to support them.
If you’re looking to boost productivity, cut back on wasted time, and ensure your internal communications always go off without a hitch, you should consider introducing a no-meeting day into your working week.
No matter which day of the week you choose for your organization, this golden opportunity to focus on individual tasks will help the average worker feel a sense of relief from the endless cycle of meetings. Getting rid of the “too many meetings” problem for your team will help them to increase productivity, lead them to tackle complex projects more effectively, and ensure that everyone gets a little break.
Who would have thought that no-meetings days, days with less communication, would lead to a more effective organization?
Meetings can be the springboard for alignment and success. But too many meetings can also drive progress to a halt. If you think you have too many meetings, here are 5 reasons you might be right.
Today, less than 10 percent of all organizations successfully execute their business strategy. What is it about that 10 percent that enables their success? Hugo recently wrote for CEO World on how these companies are able to execute successfully.