You’ve rallied the troops. Now it’s time to hunker down in the conference room. You and your team have a mission to accomplish, and you’re going to get it done no matter how long it takes.
But excessive mental strain can take its toll. Those who may have been energized at the beginning of a meeting may feel exhausted and defeated by the 20-minute mark and may need to be carried out on a stretcher by the end. To accomplish goals and ensure productivity, you want a team that is motivated, refreshed, and charged. And just as you wouldn’t drive from New York to L.A. without stopping for gas, it’s generally ill-advised to have a long meeting without organizing a break or two.
Tips to Organize Breaks in Your Work Sessions
- Set an agenda. Having an outline of what to cover and when sets expectations. Allow time for short breaks (10-15 minutes). If work is going all day or into the night, you may need to account for meal times. Include those into your agenda as well. The team will need to refuel to stay productive!
- Gauge the atmosphere. If you’re not able to set an agenda, try to get a feel of the room and the people in it. If there are lengthy periods of silence, it may be time for a break. Give the team a chance to take a short walk, grab some water or coffee, check email, etc.
- Get some exercise. A quick stretch can keep the mind limber. If things get sluggish around the table, get everything to stand up, run in place, get the energy flowing and then get back to work. Movement can be as refreshing as a nap. It also can jumpstart productivity in the room.
- Grab a bite. You may not be yourself when you’re hungry. The same may go for your team. Set aside a lunch or snack break. If you can have snacks available in the room, great. Allow people to grab something as the meeting continues on. Otherwise, have a meal together and talk about things other than your work project. It’s a great to learn about each other and create bonds.
- Introduce the Pomodoro Technique. Need to structure your work/break balance? The Pomodoro Technique may just be the lifesaver your team needs! Named after an Italian cooking timer shaped like a tomato, the technique is simple: Work for 25 minutes, take a 5-minute-long break, then work for another 25 minutes. You can adjust to meet your team’s needs. Having a Pomodoro app, stopwatch, or alarm clock can help manage your time to allow everyone to focus on the task at hand and take much-needed rests.
- Utilize Conference Room Technology. Meetings can be boring, especially when they last longer than the Lord of the Rings trilogy. During breaks, it might be best for users to learn about new technologies that the organization will be rolling out or new products that will be introduced to the whole organization. For example, letting users’ try out a new wireless presentation tool will allow them to give feedback, and get a feel for the product prior to deployment. This will help the IT Department with the evaluation process as well. This can both be fun and educating for users.
Locking your team in a room until a solution is found may sound like a great thing. It may force everyone to work hard together in situations where they may not have done without a push. However, you could be creating a pressure cooker effect, if you don’t allow everyone time to catch their breath.