Scheduling back to back meetings all week long is never as productive as it sounds. It can be overwhelming, and make you think you think you don’t have any time during the day to get things done. And those emails? If you get 10 an hour like I do, you have 40 waiting for you when it’s finally time for lunch.
One of my previous employers had a summer flex schedule. On flex Fridays, colleagues had the option of scheduling longer days and taking Friday off. As a new employee, I was one of the few staff members in the office on a Friday during the summer. It was fantastic. I had no meetings and was able to accomplish so much every Friday.
Enough is enough. Take back your week. At the very least, take back 1 day.
5 Reasons You Need To Implement “No Meeting Fridays”
Catch your breath
You ever say to yourself “what the heck did I even do this week?” Reflect and take a minute to figure out what went on, what is going on and what you have to do next. Also, check in with yourself and your coworkers. How is your emotional and physical state? What were the highs/lows of the week? How can you support others and what support do you need? Taking an emotional and task based inventory.
Have an actual lunch break
Most of my 10 minute “shame lunches” as I affectionately call them, consist of me eating at my desk and checking email and social media. After client and staff meetings, it’s typically the first time I actually get to sit at my desk. So you eat, but end up working. Having your Friday free can allow an actual lunch break, 60 minutes of glory, to run a quick errand, have lunch at a local restaurant, or take a walk outside. A few weeks ago I was able to run to Party City to get supplies, had a great sushi lunch, and was back at my desk at 12:58pm. Being able to accomplish something personal during your actual scheduled free time feels great; you take a break and gets you back to focus on the rest of your afternoon.
Write a blog post
Blog inception over here: writing about a blog post when writing a blog post! During the week I jot down topics I would like to write or expand on. Friday gives that freedom for inspiration and action as things tend to slow down. It usually takes me a couple goes at a post before I publish it, and having several ideas floating around lets you weave in and out of these thoughts throughout the week and implement them on Friday.
Strategize for the upcoming week
What’s on the calendar for next week? Meetings to prep for, ideas to get down on white paper, following up with individuals, or checking your project management timelines. What about the big picture? What are changes you want to see implemented? What are measurable outcomes for a project? What does the trajectory look like for the rest of the year? Scheduling a time each week to focus on long term and short term planning will keep you focused on the next projects at hand.
Today, Friday, ironically I had two meetings. I got pulled into them at the last minute, both contained higher level administration. I was able to attend because my calendar was free. A client is in town and calls you for lunch, your doctor’s office called and asks you to come in early, your kid’s school has an early dismissal. Things come up. Give yourself some wiggle room.
You, too, can accomplish No Meeting Fridays!
Every industry is different, however, I do believe that we are a culture of over scheduling ourselves and others. Here are some strategies to implement with yourself, your colleagues, and your leadership:
Make a commitment to yourself
Dedicate one day next week to not schedule yourself for anything. See what happens.
Set expectations with your staff, colleagues and leadership
Tell your staff to not to schedule formal meetings on Friday. Empower your staff to take ownership of their day, to schedule how they want, to catch up on work, to do what needs to get done. Communicate with leadership your new workflow, strategy and priority.
Do You Really Need To Hold That Meeting
This is a great article from Elizabeth Grace Saunders that provides an infographic to see if a meeting is actually necessary.
Make others accountable
Ask for reasons why the meeting has to happen this Friday, instead of this Thursday or sometime next week? If it is that critical, then why is this meeting scheduled at the last minute? If it is not critical, then why can’t we meet next week? Yes, there are big things that come up: high level meetings, clients/business partners are in town, events that are previously on the calendar, etc. I am talking about the low priority meetings that can happen anytime. And that time doesn’t have to be on a Friday.
Create boundaries that make sense with your company culture
I don’t know if this happens to you, but when people see you at your desk, they assume you are available. Or, just because nothing is formally scheduled on a calendar, doesn’t mean that that person is free or available. One way that I maintain boundaries with others is blocking/putting a hold on my calendar on Fridays. If something urgent is coming up, I will be flexible and adjust, but it sets a precedent of what is really urgent, what needs to be a meeting, and what can wait.
Just by acting on and communicating this strategy, I have noticed my stress level decrease because I know Friday I have time to get things done. I am motivated by the fact that the day is completely mine, and with the 8 hours to the weekend deadline, I am focused to tie up loose ends, communicate, strategize, and prepare to have a fresh start on Monday.
Hope this article serves as a way to advocate for yourself, your department or company culture to think about why/when meetings are scheduled, and to keep your Fridays free.
To freedom Fridays!