Do you go from meeting-to-meeting?

How often are you going from meeting-to-meeting?
How frequently do you have time to focus on tasks you need to complete?
How regularly do you take a lunch break?

Whilst these questions may seem superfluous, during the Emergn Wellbeing Month we want you to be deliberate about building new, healthy habits about how you work.

Often, I hear people saying they’ve been in back-to-back meetings ‘all morning’ or ‘all day’. Whilst meetings are necessary, these often aren’t as productive as we would like. Therefore, here are a few tips to improve them:

  • Use data from your calendar, Microsoft MyAnalytics or any other tool to understand the amount of time you spend in meetings. See if you can spot trends with this insight, for example: are Monday’s always busy with meetings? Or a particular time of the month?
  • Whilst you’re in meetings be conscious of how time is spent. This is most productive when you set an agenda (putting this in the meeting invite ahead of the session allows people to come prepared and focussed) and close by assigning actions.
  • Consider if you need 1 hour, or whether 30mins, or even 15mins, is enough to align and make a decision.

Ahead of back-to-back meetings being added to your diary, each week, take time to look ahead to the next week to book ‘focus time’ in your calendar. By managing your calendar in this way, you are being deliberate about having time your work tasks. As high priority meetings pop-up, you know the trade-off and impact of this focus time being replaced, so that you can manage expectations about the further completion of tasks with others. Microsoft MyAnalytics or any alternative solution can also help you book in this focus time.

This focus time is needed in our work. Often, we are dealing with tasks which have unknowns and uncertainty within them. Therefore, having time to think about how you apply yourself to the task before starting to complete it, provides you with opportunities to think about the best approach, or to visualise the highest priority unknowns and understand them first.

Also, do you know how much time it takes to switch contexts? Gloria Marks, Professor of Informatics at the University of California found about 82% of all interrupted work is resumed on the same day, but it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to the task. By using focus time, you can reduce these disruptions, saving time and money.

Lastly, when booking in focus time to your calendar, be mindful to also book in breaks during the working day. Reserving this time means you are more likely to stop, take a break from your work and return feeling refreshed. Most of the companies have 30min lunch break within our day – so use it!

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