Woman working at a picnic table

One of the best decisions I’ve made for my own productivity is implementing “no meetings” days. I have since extended that to “no meetings” weeks, which had made an even bigger difference for me.

Why Nonprofit Communicators Need No Meeting Days

Undivided and uninterrupted time is so incredibly essential to strategic communications work. Whether you use it for planning, writing, organizing, problem-solving, professional development or whatever else you feel like you are rushing through or ignoring, a solid block of time with at least two full hours, but ideally four or more, is essential. This enables “deep work” — where you get in a creative flow and your attention is focused entirely on one thing. You get it done, and you get it done well.

Unfortunately, the “no meeting” approach hasn’t taken hold within the nonprofit sector yet. In our 2022 Nonprofit Communications Trends Report,  only 6% of nonprofit communicators said they use no meetings days very often. Nearly two-thirds (62%) said they never or rarely do.

How I Implemented No Meetings Days and a Whole Week

I started with Fridays, which was easy. Nobody wants to meet on Fridays anyway. Then I added Mondays, which have become my get organized, deal with the inboxes, and planning days. Kristina and I do a check-in meeting on Mondays, but that’s it.

In the last year, I’ve also tried to add Wednesdays so I can focus primarily on content creation. I try to book as many of my meetings as possible on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Yes, sometimes, I have to add one on Wednesday, and sometimes on Monday and Friday too. But I really do try to avoid those days as much as possible.

Last year, I also added one no-meeting week each month. These are “breather” weeks that allow me to catch up if I am behind, but also to have five days in a row where deep work is possible. These weeks have also been really good for my mental health — a week without obligations and commitments to meet with others is so cleansing for an introvert’s brain!

No Meetings Days Increase Productivity and Well-Being

A recent study of 76 companies that had implemented no meetings days found great results.   Here’s what they found, as reported in the MIT Sloan Management Review:

“When one no-meeting day per week was introduced, autonomy, communication, engagement, and satisfaction all improved, resulting in decreased micromanagement and stress, which caused productivity to rise.

When meetings were reduced by 40% (the equivalent of two days per week), we found productivity to be 71% higher because employees felt more empowered and autonomous. Rather than being pinned down by a schedule, they owned their to-do lists and held themselves accountable, which consequently increased satisfaction by 52%.”

They found that as even more meetings were removed, employees found better ways to be collaborative, including using internal messaging systems (chat, Slack), project management systems (Monday, Asana), and connecting one on one with people.

The study concluded that the optimum number of no meetings days is three. (I was very pleased to read that!)

Your Turn: What Will It Take to Get a No Meetings Day at Your Nonprofit?

Have you implemented no meetings days at your nonprofit? Do you have questions or experiences? Please share your story in the comments!