Meeting-free days are becoming increasingly popular—largely because of the digital landscape we’re living in. Now more than ever, companies are beginning to embrace asynchronous principles, making it easier for remote employees to stay in touch without having to constantly be in meetings.
What is a meeting-free day?
A no-meeting day is exactly what it sounds like: a day within the work week that doesn’t have any meetings. This means no team meetings, one-on-ones, recurring meetings, or any other kind of meeting you may normally have.
A meeting-free day is traditionally a single day each week that’s predetermined and agreed upon amongst the team. On this day, teammates block off their calendars to focus on deep work. Scheduling one meeting-free day a week is a great way to boost productivity. Teammates can use this time to work on tasks that need full focus, and zero interruptions.
Make every meeting as productive as possible! Have meeting attendees come prepared and collaborate on the meeting agenda using a tool like Fellow.
Benefits of a meeting-free day
The benefits of working meeting-free days into your schedule are incomparable, with one of the most important being increased productivity. Other benefits of blocking off a day of the week for deep work include having additional time for complex tasks, increasing the efficiency of remaining meetings, feeling a strong sense of accomplishment, finding a creative rhythm, and reducing stress; especially when you’re nearing a deadline. Conducting a calendar audit and determining which meetings can be nullified or merged is a great way to free up your calendar.
9 ways to implement a no-meeting day
- Communicate with your team
- Have a clear reason for implementation
- Pick a day
- Handle scheduling overflow
- Practice better meeting efficiency
- Set your team up for success
- Set expectations for internal communications
- Lead by example
- Listen to and implement feedback
1 Communicate with your team
The first step to implementing a no-meeting day is communicating the idea to your team. After you communicate your idea, you can begin to work with your team to choose a day that works for everyone. Increasing and improving communication amongst your team also ensures everyone is on the same page and is collaborating efficiently even if you aren’t taking the time to host daily meetings.
Great alternatives for in-person or video meetings include communicating via asynchronous tools like Slack. If you aren’t hosting a meeting, consider sending out a Slack message to your team at the end of the workday to check in.
2 Have a clear reason for implementation
Like with any idea that you’re introducing to your team, you should make sure they understand the why. In this case, your explanation for implementing a meeting-free day may be to increase deep work or eliminate stress. It’s important that everyone buys into the big idea from the start, and clearly understanding the reason for implementation is a great way to kick things off.
Once you have a clear reason, the best and easiest way to implement a no meeting day is by using a tool that has the functionality already baked in. As part of the Meeting Guidelines feature set, Fellow enables company leaders to set a no meeting day for their organization, so that any time someone tries to schedule a meeting on that day, they will be automatically prompted to find another time.
3 Pick a day
This tip is as simple as it sounds. To start having meeting-free days, you need to pick a day of the week on which you’ll have no meetings, and you need to pick a start date. Having no meetings on Wednesdays is a great starting point. Breaking up the week with a meeting-free day right in the middle of the week is a great tactic that may lead to heightened productivity and a happier, healthier team.
4 Handle scheduling overflow
Setting up meeting-free days is a balancing act. The problem with implementing these deep focus dates is that they may lead to meeting overflows on other days of the week. If your teammates normally have two meetings on the day of the week that you start having meeting-free days, they’ll have to carve out a block of time on other days of the week to host those meetings. If you don’t approach these changes tactfully, they may negatively impact your workflow. This may also be a great time to conduct a thorough calendar audit, and you can have your teammates do the same. Eliminating any unproductive meetings is a great way to make time for a weekly meeting-free day.
5 Practice better meeting efficiency
It’s nearly impossible to make time for meeting-free days if the meetings you’re hosting or attending aren’t being run efficiently. First, ensure every meeting has a thorough meeting agenda and a clearly defined objective. Without these elements, meetings would not be able to run efficiently. Tools like Fellow can help ensure that all meetings are being booked with a purpose. If you don’t have your meeting agenda or objective ready, consider sending an email or postponing the meeting.
Additionally, take the time to assign meeting roles for every meeting. Assigning roles will ensure all of your bases are covered when it comes to note taking, time keeping, and hosting. Assigning these key roles means all of your meetings will run smoothly from start to finish.
Lastly, encouraging your teammates to cancel any unproductive meetings is one of the easier things you can do to boost efficiency. Being meticulous when it comes to determining which meetings are adding value and which ones are simply taking up time is a great skill to possess, especially in a remote landscape where online meetings are frequent.
6 Set your team up for success
When implementing a new productivity tactic, make sure your team knows exactly what they’re getting into. If you want them to succeed and perform to the best of their abilities, you should ensure they have everything they need to succeed. Maybe they need a few guidelines or insights to be able to communicate effectively without meetings. Or, maybe they need clearly defined goals or objectives. Regardless, it’s important that they have whatever they need.
7 Set expectations for internal communications
Sometimes it can be difficult to find an appropriate balance between meeting frequency (having too many meetings vs. having a more lenient schedule) and sufficient communication (over-communicating vs. failing to communicate when necessary). If you’re choosing to implement a meeting-free day, you need to set the expectation for internal communication in advance so no one feels confused or overwhelmed. Setting the expectation before the no-meeting day will also ensure your teammates are set up for success. Everyone should have the tools, knowledge, and resources they need to conquer their next meeting-free day with no fear.
Internal communication rules can range anywhere from sending an update at the end of the day to checking in via Slack at noon. What’s most important is ensuring your team is all on the same page when it comes to communication best practices within your organization. Remember, over-communication is better than under-communication!
8 Lead by example
The best way to start a new initiative is to lead by example. If you’re in a more senior position, your direct reports may feel less comfortable setting boundaries or dedicating a block of time to deep work. If you’re vocal about no-meeting days, it may make others feel more comfortable when they’re scheduling their own meeting-free days.
On the flip side, it’s important that you also set a positive example for working and communicating asynchronously. If you make the decision to implement no-meeting days, make sure your team knows that they’re still expected to work efficiently. It’s important that everyone is held accountable whether you’re meeting every day or not.
9 Listen to and implement feedback
As a manager or leader within your organization, you need to listen to the wants and needs of your employees. If your team is feeling burnt out, overworked, underappreciated, or stressed, a no-meeting day may be exactly what they need.
To get the ball rolling, you can start by hosting a round table with your team. Hosting an open, honest conversation where everyone on the team has the opportunity to voice their concerns and weigh in on which day works best is a great way to make everyone feel included in making the final decision. Weaving feedback into your team’s DNA is a great way to build a thriving workplace culture, and acting on that feedback is an even better way to boost morale and show your team how much you value their effort.
It’s time to implement a no-meeting day and make time for deep work
Nothing is more overwhelming than a schedule that is packed with meetings, and meeting-free days are a great way to re-energize your team. Bouncing from meeting to meeting rarely leaves time for deep work, and this hectic schedule can make it extremely difficult to focus on meticulous tasks that require your undivided attention. These tips, tricks, and best practices will help you increase productivity and reduce the number of meetings in your calendar by eliminating unproductive meetings and making time for deep work.