For many of us, back-to-back meetings are very common. It’s almost expected that we jump from one meeting to the next for hours on end.
But this can be very bad for workplace productivity. If you do not take the time to clear your head during the day, you may be prone to stress and exhaustion.
The pandemic has disrupted our usual workplace routines. Many of us are familiar with attending multiple virtual meetings in a row. Meeting fatigue has become even more prevalent.
With that in mind, researchers at Microsoft’s Human Factor Labs wanted to find a solution.
They monitored the brain activity of 14 volunteers while they attended multiple video meetings. This was done by having the volunteers wear electroencephalogram (EEG) equipment. The EEG caps monitored electrical activity in their brains, which is linked with stress and attention levels.
Volunteers then took part in two separate meeting sessions. On one day, they attended four meetings consecutively for two hours. On the other day, they were granted 10-minute breaks. During these breaks, they were told to meditate.
In the end, the study confirmed that short breaks are very important. Such breaks bring a myriad of benefits, all of which improve productivity and reduce stress.
This study proves that meeting fatigue, which many of us have suffered from, can be resolved. The solution is as simple as taking a break. This is ever more crucial now that we are transitioning to working from home or hybrid work schedules.
Some worry that adding breaks makes meetings longer. But all you need are these extra five to ten minutes. Then, you can ensure that every other minute during the meeting itself is efficient. Employees will not only be less stressed. By preventing fatigue, people can concentrate better and become more productive.
Here are some reasons why you should grant yourself some downtime during a long day of meetings.
Breaks allow the brain to reset and recharge.
Previous studies showed that stress builds up when we attend back-to-back meetings for just two hours. But stress lowers when you take breaks, allowing your brain to reset and recharge. You can then head into your next meeting in a relaxed, refreshed state.
Jumping between meetings is stressful.
Nothing induces more anxiety than coming to the end of a meeting, and knowing you have to prepare for the next one. This switching of tasks also calls for a switching of mindsets — which can cause stress levels to spike. A short break between meetings will make this transition period smoother and less stressful.
Engage better during meetings.
If you are tired and stressed, it is hard to concentrate on what other people are saying. Microsoft’s study backs this up. Participants who took breaks showed higher levels of engagement during meetings. On the other hand, when they did not take breaks, participants were withdrawn and less engaged.
Productivity improves overall.
Taking breaks makes you more energized and engaged. This slice of downtime brings you back to the meeting table rejuvenated and refreshed. You are then more attentive and better able to contribute to the conversation, which boosts performance and productivity.
Prevent your brain from being overwhelmed.
We are no strangers to information overload during meetings. Especially when there is a challenging agenda, it can be hard to concentrate. You might even feel overwhelmed. Taking breaks during or between meetings gives you time to recharge.
For challenging tasks, research shows that giving our minds a chance to rest can restore motivation. These small breaks allow us to look at tasks with a fresh pair of eyes. In fact, a study found that brief diversions improve our ability to concentrate for long amounts of time. Researchers proposed that deactivating and reactivating one’s goals helps us stay focused. A simple mental break helps us stay focused and ready for the rest of the day!
Improve processing of information.
Taking a break is sometimes known as ‘waking rest’. By letting your brain rest, memories form more easily. Also, the brain is better able to internalize information obtained during the meeting. The brain can then ingrain what it learned and improve learning. This also motivates internal reflection, helping you process information in a more in-depth manner.
Moving around has many benefits.
One of the best ways to use these meeting breaks is to move around. In today’s world, we are often sitting around. All this can be bad for us in the long run. Even five minutes of light physical activity brings many benefits. Simply walking around for a short period of time can reduce chances of heart disease, depression, and obesity. An active break leaves you refreshed physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Avoid decision fatigue.
Making many decisions throughout the day takes a toll on our willpower. Meetings are especially prone to this. We have to constantly process new information and make decisions. This then wears down our reasoning ability, leading to decision fatigue. A study found that Israeli judges who were granting paroles resorted to the easiest option of saying ‘no’ as decision fatigue set in.
To keep track of time, why not try Meetric! Use Meetric not just for taking notes, but also to make sure that you give yourself a break between meetings.