Making the Most of Your Meeting-Free Workdays

Employees seem to be drowning in meetings (and email) these days. Too many people are invited, nothing gets accomplished, it never starts on time and it’s disorganized. These are just a few of the most common issues with meetings in today’s workplace.

Meeting-free workdays have emerged as one solution that some workers and companies are trying. They’re hoping that by reducing the volume of meetings they can increase productivity, employee satisfaction, as well as the bottom line.

Just imagine – a whole day without any meetings. For many workers, especially introverts, it’s a dream come true. However, if you’re an extrovert, a meeting-free day may have the opposite effect. You may be so bored that you accomplish nothing or you resort to interrupting your colleagues. Meeting-free days may not be for everyone, but there may be some easy solutions for employees who thrive in a more stimulating environment.

If you’re ready to add a meeting-free day to your week, here are some tips to help you make the most of it.

1| Be a stickler about it.

No meetings means no meetings. You’ll have to be particularly firm in declining meeting requests if you’re doing this for yourself rather than it being part of your company’s culture. Meet with your boss to explain the advantage of your meeting-free day and try to garner their support. Otherwise, only make exceptions for meetings with your boss. It may also help to evangelize your plan with your coworkers. Like a workout routine or healthy-eating regimen, you’ll have better success when you have the support of those around you. They may even decide to institute a meeting-free day for themselves.

2| Choose the day with purpose.

There’s no universal right day for selecting a meeting-free day. However, for your sanity and everyone else’s, make it the same day every week. Be respectful of your coworkers’ availability as well as your own productivity goals when you make your selection. For example, if your office already has a work-remote/work-from-home day once a week, that day may be your best bet.

3| Be proactive in preparing for productivity.

To truly make your meeting-free day a consistent success, you need just a small amount of prep time. In addition to deadlines, think carefully about which projects you can work on independently, without much input from your colleagues. Which tasks need more hours of dedicated focus time? These are projects ripe for your meeting-free day. Plan your day in larger blocks of time so you can get in the zone (and stay there!) for the handful of projects you select. Be sure to take some breaks in between – for your body and your brain. The combination of physical activity and mental pauses will keep you going as you crank through your day’s plan.

4| Commit to (mostly) ignoring email.

We all know how easy it is to get sucked into cleaning out the always-full inbox. Don’t ruin your dreams of productivity by accidentally wasting a whole day on email. Avoid it entirely for the day, or pick just a few times when you’ll check in for anything urgent. If you’re easily distracted, you may find it helpful to turn off the myriad email notifications, whether it’s pop-ups on your computer or chime sounds from your phone. While you’re at it, turn off other smartphone notifications as well. That game of Words with Friends and all those Instagram updates can wait.

5| Refine your experiment.

Once you begin your meeting-free day process, stick with it for at least a few months. It can take a while for you and your colleagues to adjust to a new schedule. Always be mindful about how you can tweak this practice to better meet your productivity goals. You might find that a different day would work better than the one you chose originally. No big deal. Try shutting your door more on your meeting-free day rather than always keeping it open. Be creative about how you solve issues that may arise, and be persistent.

RSVP: Yes, No, or Maybe

Regardless of whether you add a meeting-free day into your schedule, you can also try other solutions simultaneously. Be on the lookout for Roam’s upcoming post on how to make meetings more effective. In the meantime, be purposeful in the meetings you accept as well as those you organize.