How Setting "No Meeting Days" is the Ultimate Company Wide Productivity Hack
August 1, 2015 •Stephanie Fisher
I'm about to share with you one of our closely-guarded secrets. It's a really simple policy that was implemented on a whim but has ended up being one of the most significant productivity boosters we've ever seen at Mojo and I think it can help you, too.
Before I tell you about it, I'm going to share with you how we used to operate our schedules (which is pretty much like every other company) and what it was doing to us. Before implementing this policy, we scheduled our time on Monday through Friday just like everyone else. We booked meetings on Monday mornings. We booked meetings on Wednesday afternoons. We booked meetings on Thursdays, Fridays, Tuesdays, and really any time we saw "white space" on everyone's calendars.
This seemed to be the norm. After all, when people want to meet we need to accommodate, right?
While we were scheduling lots of meetings, it was very hard to actually get things done. When the human brain has to switch between contexts all the time, it ends up being very inefficient at any of the tasks. We all know by now that multi-tasking is a myth.
Our team is very busy and has a lot to do. In addition to meeting with clients we are writing content, creating designs, configuring software, building websites, developing applications, creating inbound marketing strategies, managing social media calendars, and a lot more for our clients. We found that if every day was sprinkled with meetings, we found it difficult to really focus 100% on the tasks at hand.
We would each start the day with working on a project, only to have to stop for a 10am meeting. Then we would pick it up again and stop again for a lunch meeting. then we would try to get back in the "creative zone" only to stop for a 2pm meeting. All the stopping and starting really killed productivity.
As I talked to other agency people and CEOs, I found that everyone else was experiencing similar pain. We also heard the same things from our clients. Their only solution was to work long tiring hours and catch up on the weekends.
So one day, I decided to stop the madness and implement "no meeting days." As an entire company, we would set aside certain days that were off-limits for meetings. No client meetings, no internal meetings, no scheduled meetings at all.
The results were astounding. Immediately, I found myself getting more done. I was able to deliver work for clients that was even better and I was able to start to get ahead of my work so I could have even more time for collaboration with my team and for spending time helping clients.
I received similar feedback from my team. Everyone at SpinWeb fell in love with the concept and the feedback was overwhelming. Everyone was getting more done and doing better work. Contrary to what you might think, collaboration and teamwork also actually improved because we were finding more time for ad-hoc "hallway" conversations which often sparked new ideas. It gave the team better access to one another.
By setting aside certain days for actual focused work, we were able to look at the other days with a fresh perspective. Rather than seeing meetings as interruptions, we were prepped for those days knowing that we had other days that week that were ready for long periods of "focus time" to empower us to do our best work. This policy has allowed us to deliver better work for our clients and improve our work/life balance at the same time.
We haven't shared this policy with anyone else (until now) because we know that not everyone will understand or agree with it but I feel like it's worth sharing at this point because I think it can help your company, too. While I won't say how many "no meeting" days we have or which days they are (we still keep some of the details confidential), I would recommend that you consider a similar policy in your company.
The key is to set a policy with strict buy-in from everyone. If even one person starts to break the rules, the entire system gets weaker. Even slipping in "one or two" meetings into a no-meeting day can start to hurt productivity. Because of this, my advice is to be very strict about keeping those days off-limits for meetings.
Since it's the real world, I'm aware that there will sometimes be exceptions for special cases. However, for the most part, we honor those days and protect them because we know that this time is reserved for us to create great work for our clients.
Some of you are already saying things like "that would never work at my company" and you may be right. All I can say is that it has had an extremely positive effect on our productivity and customer service.
So how about it? Are you brave enough to implement "no meeting days" at your organization?
Steph leads our client delivery team and is obsessed with delivering quality work, creating an efficiency machine, and mastering the tools and disciplines to achieve success for our heroes. At home, she loves listening to true crime podcasts, playing with her daughters and two pugs, and singing in a local rock band with her husband.
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