Energy management is the new time management, empowering you to take breaks and choose when you work on certain tasks according to your natural ebb and flow. But sometimes your schedule is pretty much chosen for you by invitations to meetings.
How do you manage your energy and productivity at work when you can’t choose your work flow and meetings last all day?
Workdays Should Have a Pulse and Pause
To be truly worthwhile and productive, meetings demand some things from you. They require you to be creative, responsive, engaged, thoughtful, positive, energetic and open-minded. Essentially, they require your energy.
That’s why ongoing breaks are so important to your workday. As your energy and focus peaks and dips, as little as 10 or 15 minutes of non-work time helps restore the energy you spend on collaborating and getting work done.
Ideally, we should have what 99U calls a “pulse and pause” workday:
“Human beings are designed to pulse rhythmically between spending and renewing energy. That’s how we operate at our best.”
Long meetings and nonstop collaboration aren’t ideal, but sometimes that is a reality for many workers. Even when you’re bored, burnt out, tired or stressed, sometimes you still have to meet.
So how do you stay productive during days of meeting marathons when you can’t get a real break?
5 Personal Energy Management Tips for Meetings
When you can’t stop, the best way to manage your energy is to accept where you’re at and contribute what you can. Instead of trying to plow through your dips, understand how to leverage your attitude and energy levels:
- When you’re tired or bored, put on your brainstorming cap. Studies indicate that when you’re tired, it’s a great time to be creative because you’re not filtering everything as much as when you’re alert. Similarly, boredom acts as an indicator that what you’re currently doing is not satisfactory and allows your mind to wander toward new ideas.
- When you’re agitated, angry or frustrated, step back from decision-making and become an active listener. These states impair our judgement, and it’s perfectly OK for you to tell others that you’ll think something over and get back to them later.
- When you’re distracted, doodle. Distraction may just be a signal that your brain needs more stimulation, and instead of turning your attention toward your inbox or other projects, you can stay present and satisfy that need by doodling in a notepad. In fact, studies show that this strategy improves focus and memory.
- When you’ve got a creative block, play the questioner instead of the ideator. You can’t just will a brilliant idea into fruition, so instead, help others develop their ideas by asking questions. Sometimes we don’t need everyone to be the genius inventor but the rule breaker that asks “Why?” and “Why not?”
- When you’re feeling negative, harness that energy for constructive criticism. To make sure you’re not insulting or complaining, focus on the facts and be specific about what you’re criticizing—and try to reserve your criticism for one or two comments at the end.
By using your not-so-great states to your advantage, you’ll avoid being the negative nancy, the non-contributor or the absent attendee in meetings.
If you really want to save yourself just a little more “me time” in between meetings, though, consider using a smart calendar app with free/busy polling. The free/busy polling feature transforms the process of scheduling meetings so you can choose the time that’s best for you (and stick to your natural rhythm at work).
Featured Image Source: Gratisography