Tired of boring, soul sucking meetings? The truth is, they’re not only monotonous and tiring–they’re sapping your resiliency.
We are all under pressure at work–and these stresses ignite our prehistoric “fight or flight” response. This means a rush of cortisol, adrenaline, and other stress hormones are coursing through our bodies. Unfortunately, we’re not doing anything to burn those hormones off and release the “bliss molecules” that intense fighting or fleeing would generate.
But there’s a solution. By including more physical activity in our lives, we can condition how our bodies respond to stress. In other words, we can build our resiliency–enabling us to recover from stress faster, and create a higher threshold before the stress response kicks in.
In order to achieve this increased resiliency–as well as to get more energy, focus, and productivity–follow these eight simple strategies during the many meetings you attend every day:
Make it a rule that meetings don’t go longer than two hours without taking a break. Often times the tendency is to try and “push through” in order to get things done, but the truth is that after two hours people have checked out. Allowing participants 10 to 15 minutes to get recovery will make your meeting more productive over the long run as they’ll come back refreshed and ready to focus.
Make it okay for people to stand up whenever they need to. Some people become uncomfortable sitting for long periods or they may need to move a bit to keep their energy up. They can stand at the back or sides of the room and still participate.
Remove the chairs from the room so everyone stands for the duration of the meeting. Not only will it keep everyone from multitasking or getting tired and zoning out, it will also most likely shorten the duration of the meeting!
If you’re only meeting with one or two other people, make it a walking meeting. Walking increases blood circulation to the body and brain, delivering more energy for physical and mental performance. If it’s not conducive to walk outside, find a route within your building or take it to the stairwell.
Serving sweets, chips, and soda during meetings may seem like a good idea, but in reality all of these things lead to an energy crash. These foods are high glycemic, which means they get broken down into glucose (energy) and released into the blood stream very quickly. Within about 30 minutes a precipitous drop follows this rush in blood glucose–leaving people low on energy. Serving low glycemic foods high in fiber, protein, and healthy fats slows the release of glucose in the bloodstream, resulting in more sustained energy.
Make your meetings 45 minutes instead of an hour. If you schedule meetings for an hour, they’ll always take at least that long. I’ve had many corporate clients shorten their meetings and manage to accomplish just as much as longer ones. Some of them have even gone to 30-minute meetings, are getting the same amount of work done and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.
Nothing kills the energy and productivity of a meeting like people not paying attention. At the outset of every meeting ask for everyone’s full attention and make a pact that no one will multitask. Have everyone set their phones and electronic devices on a separate table.
Studies have shown the longer we sit, the more our energy, focus, and productivity wanes. Set a timer and pause every 30 to 45 minutes to lead everyone through a brief series of stretches and small movements–they don’t even have to stand up.
Have them reach both arms forward to stretch their backs, then instruct them to clasp their hands behind their backs and lift their arms to stretch their chests. Shoulder rolls, neck rotations, spinal twists and straightening the legs several times are a few other options for small movements to get the blood and energy flowing.
Stress isn’t going away, but we can build our resiliency, increase our energy, and improve our performance.
Jenny C. Evans is the author of The Resiliency Revolution: Your Stress Solution For Life 60 Seconds at a Time (Wise Ink Creative Publishing; November 2014). She is also founder and CEO of PowerHouse Performance, where she works with thousands of C-suite executives, leaders, and employees worldwide to help them improve their resilience, performance, and productivity, while enhancing their health.