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Back-to-Back Meetings: How to Keep Productivity Up

Several meetings one after another can affect your team's productivity. Read how to reduce meetings and get the most out of the ones you hold.

By Fellow.app  •   July 28, 2022  •   6 min read

Meetings are a fantastic way to keep your team informed on the latest developments about a project or the whole organization. However, no matter how great they are, you can always have too much of a good thing. Holding back-to-back meetings can reduce their advantages while causing a big dip in motivation for your team. That, in turn, can negatively impact the quality of their work. Below are a few tips on not cramming your team to the brim with meetings while still keeping them as informed as possible. 

What are back-to-back meetings?

Back-to-back meetings are pretty much what they sound like: meetings scheduled one after another during a typical workweek. A big block of team meetings on the calendar can lead to lower employee morale. That’s true not just because of these meetings’ frequency but also because, with each meeting, everyone gets a bit more worn out. In turn, each meeting might go a bit worse than the one before it, which your team likely won’t love.

Back-to-back meetings worth showing up to

A well-run meeting can foster communication and collaboration by including an agenda the whole team can contribute to. Try using a tool like Fellow!

How to be more effective despite back-to-back meetings

If back-to-back meetings are unavoidable, you’ll want to change how you move through them so you get the most out of each one. Staying focused in an unproductive meeting can seem like a tall order, but with the tips provided below, your meetings can still be great.

1Make the most out of the meetings

While it can be tempting to grit your teeth through your back-to-back meetings, that approach can make things even more unpleasant. Instead, try to participate – it’s a great way to keep your mind engaged. Even if there’s little you don’t already know about the topic at hand, a well-placed question could reveal something new. Additionally, a meeting can be a great place to network with team members from other departments if you’re not meeting with just your own team.

2Stay focused on the task at hand

Here’s an inconvenient truth: Multitasking isn’t actually possible. Usually, what people call multitasking is actually rapidly switching between two tasks. Namely, trying to get work done during a meeting will usually result in it getting done slower and in lower quality. Keep your eyes and ears on the meeting instead.

3Listen to music 

While you shouldn’t pull out your headphones in the meeting room, listening to music on your own time can help you decompress. It can also help you get through other tasks between meetings. 

However, when it comes to productive listening, not just any sound will do. You should definitely put on music you enjoy, but avoid flooding your ears with distracting lyrics. It’s also a good idea to keep your playlist at a low volume to keep an ear out for your phone ringing. 

4Set a pre and post-meeting routine

Preparation and follow-up are key to getting the most value out of back-to-back meetings. And sure, using your free time to plan for what might be an unproductive day from the jump can seem counterproductive. In reality, though, doing so can help you participate in your meetings, which will make them more enjoyable. You’d be amazed how simply giving yourself a stake in it all can make the time fly by. And while you’re at it, you’ll probably learn something too.

5Get proper rest

A lack of sleep can turn even productive meetings into grueling slogs – experts suggest getting between seven and nine hours of sleep each night. Low energy can cause a lack of focus that might leave you trailing behind in any team conversation. And that’s before getting into the possible dip in work quality as your brain focuses more on keeping you awake than anything else. 

6Eat energizing meals

Certain foods can do you more favors in the meeting room than others. While all food eventually becomes fuel for your body, fatty foods take more time to digest and delay oxygen from reaching your brain. That can leave you feeling groggy and can make it challenging to get through the day. Instead, stick to proteins to fuel your body without slowing down your mind. 

7Find useful tech

All kinds of apps and tools can help you get through a big stack of meetings. Time management apps, for example, can send a gentle reminder when it’s time to join or wrap up a meeting. This can keep you from going overtime on an already packed day and get you in the right room at the right time. It can also help you stay the course on your meeting agenda. 

8Do something non-work related

If all else fails and you start to feel overwhelmed with your back-to-back meetings, it doesn’t hurt to take a little break. Everyone has their tolerance for work-related stress, and if you reach or surpass yours, the worst thing you can do is push through it. Instead, go on your usual break early. Think about it like this: A well-rested and motivated you is worth more than a burnt-out you. Meetings are important, but self-care is number one.

How to avoid back-to-back meetings

Although you now know how to get some value out of a wave of meetings, what if you could avoid back-to-back meetings entirely? Read on to find some helpful advice on this front. 

Improve your scheduling

This advice is simple: If your schedule is chock full of meetings, clear it up a bit. Back-to-back meetings often come from the idea that more meetings mean more productivity.  But that’s often not actually the case – meetings take your team away from their regular duties. That’s not to say that they aren’t important – they are! But once a week is usually enough to get your point across. Or if you’re going to hold daily meetings, opt for super short options such as daily huddle meetings.

Be selective about the meetings you attend 

While you might feel obligated to attend every meeting you’re invited to, you can skip a few non-mandatory meetings. Only attending the most important and relevant meetings can help you gain back any time lost to meeting overload. 

Find the ideal meeting length

The problem with many unproductive meetings is that they go on for too long. The ideal length for most gatherings is at most 30 minutes for shorter ones or 60 minutes for longer ones. Notice how long your meetings usually last, and cap future meetings at that. 

Make sure the meeting has a purpose 

Many unproductive meetings don’t have goals behind them – they’re often just ways to pass on information. While that’s occasionally fine, it can start to grate on your team if it keeps happening. 

The first thing you should do when planning a meeting is make sure there’s a real reason to get together in the first place. For example, a hiring announcement can probably come via email. Conversely, a brainstorming session is a great occasion for a meeting.

Try alternative meeting methods 

Meetings are a great way to share information with team members, but you have other options too. You can use phone calls or video meetings to pass along important updates while taking up less time. A video call can be especially helpful if you pair it with meeting tools like Fellow to make the whole thing a more interactive experience. 

Quality over quantity 

There’s only so much time during the week that your team can spend in meetings without it hurting everyone’s work. And yes, a great meeting is a great meeting, but all good things should come in moderation.

To find the most success with meetings, try holding at most two per week while keeping them productive and meaningful with Fellow. Your meetings can be the best in show with Fellow’s collaborative agenda builder, real-time note-taking tools, and meeting templates. It’s a great way to unite your team more effectively – all without clogging their calendars.

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