Incorporating more movement and breaks from sitting into our workdays is not as simple as setting a timer to remind us every half hour or hour. Back-to-back meetings throughout the day, particularly remote meetings where everyone calls in from their desks as we are seeing more and more, can make it challenging to step away from the desk at all. To fit in these necessary breaks for our health and wellness, we can take a closer look at these meetings and see if we can move the needle in the right direction by increasing efficiency and making time for movement.
There are great tips for increasing meeting efficiency online, and Brian Tracy shares some in his blog post, 7 Ways to Make Meetings More Efficient https://www.briantracy.com/blog/general/7-ways-to-make-meetings-more-efficient/. I will take his advice this week and ensure that every meeting I am driving is necessary, has a clear purpose and agenda, starts and ends on time, and covers items in priority order. I will work to conclude each meeting with agreement and clear task ownership, and follow up with meeting minutes. I expect this will help increase the efficiency of my meetings as he suggests but would still leave me with the challenge of insufficient time between meetings for breaks from sitting and incorporating movement. I would suggest adding two additional suggestions to the excellent tips from Brian Tracy.
Closely evaluate the agenda to ensure all planned content is necessary and value added.
A meeting with a clear purpose that tries to cover too many topics, topics that are not necessary to discuss in person, or do not need the entire group of attendees may be able to be addressed another way such as through email. Once we are sure the content is necessary, value added, and appropriate for the entire group of attendees we can move to the second suggestion.
Schedule the meeting for the shortest amount of time that is sufficient to cover the topics, allowing breaks between meetings.
Many of us have been in multiple-hour, half-day, or full-day meetings and walked away thinking that the topics could have been covered in half or a third of that time. The minimum amount of time that is needed to cover critical discussions, make critical decisions, or convey critical information would be ideal to keep the participants engaged. Additional detail can be provided through email that is sent out in advance, during, or after the meeting.
It is likely that the default one-hour meeting could be shortened to 45 minutes, and longer meetings could similarly be shortened to allow a 15 minute break between meetings. If we start and end on time, stay focused on our topic, and everyone is on the same page thanks to the agenda and clear purpose of the meeting, then the benefit may be realized through a shorter, more efficient meeting. The additional 15 minute break between meetings could give all attendees a chance to re-energize and shift focus to the next meeting topic. In an ideal world, we would do so while taking a short walk, stretching, or otherwise giving our bodies a much needed movement break from all of that productive seated work.