We all have those days when our meetings take the driver’s seat and we just have to go along for the ride. Like when your 9am bleeds into your 10am which bleeds into your 11am which bleeds into your lunch, etc. and you finally get to the end of the work day to realize you were unable to get any real work done, but then you have to go to a client dinner, so there goes any productivity or time for yourself on that day.
On those days your calendar often looks like this:
It’s hard enough to maintain your sanity on days like these, let alone actually find meaning or be productive. The best way to survive a marathon of meetings day like this is to get ahead of it.
If you take the time to plan for your day to be meaningful, it can be, despite what your calendar might reflect.
After spending 20 years in corporate America, these are 10 ways I’ve found that can help you bring purpose and productivity to a long day of back to back meetings.
HOW TO SURVIVE A DAY OF MARATHON MEETINGS
The Day Before:
The day before your meetings, pre-order your lunch to be delivered to your office. Unless one of your meetings includes lunch, doing this will be one less thing you need to worry about on a day that’s going to prove a challenge to be productive. UberEATS can help you out.
People who are dehydrated are less productive and less happy than their hydrated counterparts. Not only that, being even mildly dehydrated has been proven to inhibit brain function. You need half your weight in ounces each day. Typically, that translates to 8 glasses or 2 liters on average. How can you make sure you drink the amount of water you need to function optimally on a day when you’re stuck in meetings? Prep a refillable water bottle the night before and fill it with things you like to make it enjoyable to sip on all day. Cucumber slices, orange slices, strawberries and mint, lemon or lime- whatever you enjoy. Then carry it with you from meeting to meeting. There’s something about simple things like adding cucumbers to water that makes it seem so luxurious to me. It gives me motivation to want to drink it.
Dress to Impress
Mark Twain said “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence in society”. Unless you’re Mark Zuckerberg, what you wear matters. Someone wise once said “Always dress for the job you want, not the job you have”. Bold that advice on days you plan to be in front of many of your colleagues, managers, executives and clients. Meetings are a time to stand out and there’s no easier way to do that than to dress well.
I always planned my outfits in advance because it made the mornings easier for me and I love fashion so that made it fun. Spending a few minutes trolling Pinterest for outfit ideas based on what you have in your closet is a good start. Lay your clothes out the night before and you’ll be ready to conquer your day with confidence. You’ll also be laying the groundwork in the subconscious minds of your peers that you can handle that promotion.
Pack a sweater, sweatshirt or fashionable scarf
I don’t think I’ve ever been in an office environment that wasn’t freezing. It’s the worst thing in the world to be held captive in a room and expected to pay attention as you slowly start to lose feeling in your extremeties. If you’re going to be stuck inside all day in meetings, make sure you have something to keep you warm. Bonus points if it’s also fashionable.
Early to Bed
You are going to need your energy for your marathon meeting day, so make sure you get 8 hours of sleep the night before. If you plan to wake up at 7, you will need to go to bed by 11 for instance. Make adjustments to go to sleep early enough so that you get a full night’s sleep. I use the clock app on my iphone which has a “bedtime” setting that automatically calculates how many hours of sleep I’ll get when I set the bedtime and wake time. One less calculation I have to do in my head and it wakes me to a wonderful sound of birds chirping.
Early to Rise
Plan to wake an hour and 30 minutes earlier than normal. This is annoying, I know but you will thank me later. (This is also why it’s imperative you go to bed early enough to get 8 hours sleep the night before) Leave the house an hour early that morning. If you’re dropping off your kids at school, take them to early daycare. That extra hour will be the most productive for you because it’s likely no one else will be in the office that early which means no interruptions, and you can get a head start on some of your tasks for the day that would otherwise lie dormant all day while you’re stuck in meetings.
On marathon meeting days, you have no time for yourself, that includes barely time for bio breaks, so do yourself a favor and schedule 30 minutes of “you time” first thing. You can choose whatever you want to do in that time but it has to be something you do for yourself that energizes you. Is it a yoga practice? Is it a quiet time of prayer over a cup of coffee? Is it a simple jog or walk with your dog?
I have a Puggle who refuses to walk anywhere, so he sprints me around the block with him every morning, as I hold onto his leash for dear life. The great thing about this daily ritual for me is that I actually feel free when I run. It energizes me and I wouldn’t be running anywhere if he weren’t dragging me along so he’s the perfect accountability partner. This is why you need to get up an hour and 30 minutes early so it will leave you 30 minutes for yourself before your crazy day begins.
Usually meetings are not super time efficient. They don’t always start on time or sometimes there are portions of the meeting that are not relevant to your particular job function. Use this inevitable inefficiency to your advantage and steal some of that time back. While you’re waiting for the meeting to start, use that time to tackle simple tasks like checking email or organizing your to-do list. Even if you can’t get to your to-do’s it will make you feel accomplished to have them written down and prioritized.
One of the things happy people do daily is connect with family and friends. Since your time is very limited with family and friends on a marathon of meetings day, make sure to take 5-10 minutes of your stolen time or commute time to call or face time your kids, your best friend or your significant other. Especially given that you won’t get to see them for dinner, just that boost of hearing about their day will get you out of your world and into theirs, which for me was always the greatest escape.
The University of British Columbia did a study on the brain and found that the complex, problem solving parts of our brain are much more active when we daydream than when we focus on routine tasks. As a result, we can actually solve more difficult problems when we are letting our minds wander.
Daydreaming may not be accomplishing anything immediately but when our minds wander they could be taking that time to address more meaningful life problems with your career or relationships. Allow yourself a few moments to daydream to get a mental break from the constant trauma of being stuck in meetings all day and don’t feel guilty about it.
Planning ahead and managing the time you have wisely can bring meaning and productivity to an otherwise seemingly unproductive day of back to back meetings.
Taking care to plan for these most basic human needs which are the most likely to fall through the cracks otherwise will make all the difference in your day.
Welcome to Honey & Figs! I'm Lisa. I love helping people with practical ways to live more abundant lives based on my own experience. You can click here to find out more about me.
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