Team Productivity – What You Need to Know This Week

Here’s a look at three interesting stories currently in the news with ramifications for your team’s productivity.

1. No-meeting days are gaining popularity

If you think you spend too much time sitting in meetings, how would you feel about knowing that you had at least one day every week that was guaranteed to be meeting-free? That practice is gaining popularity and might be coming soon to your workplace! Facebook established “no meetings Wednesdays” back in 2012, and others are increasingly following suit, with more companies setting up weekly days where no meetings are permitted to be scheduled.

2. Do you really need to hold that meeting?

Speaking of ways to combat the tyranny that meetings can hold over your team’s calendar, the Harvard Business Review offers a great decision tree for figuring out if you really need to hold a meeting at all. It suggests asking yourself: Have I thought through this situation? Do I need outside input to make progress? Does moving forward require a real-time conversation? Does this necessitate a face-to-face meeting? It also suggests alternatives at each stage if the answer to any of those questions is “no.” (We’ve got some additional advice of our own on this topic here as well.)

3. A four-letter word that can transform your productivity

Could saying the word “done” help you be more productive? Brain-training company SenseLabs says that explicitly telling yourself that you’re done with a project or task creates a physiological response where the electrical activity in our brain shifts from being activated and engaged into a more relaxed state, and a neurochemical shift releases serotonin. That newly relaxed state then allows you to move on to the next tasks on your list, building your confidence – and the more often you complete a task, the more this effect increases. What that means for you: The more opportunities you can create to (legitimately) say “done,” the better. Breaking tasks into smaller chunks and working in shorter segments can help give you more opportunities to feel the satisfaction of completing work, and in turn sets you up to be more productive.

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  • Rob Dewhirst

    Isn’t “no meeting days” making the problem worse? Why don’t we have good, productive meetings on whatever day? Blacking out a day for things we don’t like because we don’t do them well doesn’t scale up. You also have one less day to improve your meetings to get real work done.

    Also I don’t recall 37signals ever saying they agreed to have no-meeting days. They agree to have meetings only when necessary, plan and prepare for them and make decisions at them (and say as much in Rework).

    • amytriplett

      For some types of jobs, one badly-timed meeting in the middle of the day, even a productive meeting, can really damage productivity for way more than an hour. Programmers for example often need really solid blocks of uninterrupted time to get into the “groove” of programming. A no-meetings day for tech companies could be invaluable.

      • Rob Dewhirst

        I agree. And this is the manager’s call: does it add more value to interrupt that person’s block of time if their input is truly needed? (Most of the time it isn’t). Blacking out arbitrary days doesn’t fix that problem.

    • Rob, you’re correct (and we’re correcting the text above). If the news articles I’ve seen are right, 37signals does a pretty cool thing where they don’t allow regularly scheduled meetings, which is an idea I love.

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