Microsoft’s Human Factors Lab study used electroencephalograms and found that stress-related brain activity increases with video meetings that participants switch to without breaks.
But it can also cause our stress levels to rise, precisely because virtual environments often involve multiple meetings in a row. Unlike in-person meetings, where you can take breaks as you commute from one location to another, virtual meetings are quick to get to and may not leave room for a break.
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 work week. These types of meetings are a common occurrence in work environments and can also happen when you book meetings with outside clients, partners and vendors who aren’t on your team.
Since these meetings often happen at the same time, back-to-back meetings can lead to stress, which can negatively impact your productivity and health. 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.
When you’re planning your meetings, don’t book all of your meetings back-to-back, and leave time between meetings to take a break. This can help prevent you from feeling overwhelmed and being more likely to make mistakes. Moreover, in some cases, you may have to decline a meeting if you can’t take a break in between and still perform well.
Self-Care Practices to Handle Back-to-Back Meetings
Self-care is an important part of your well-being and helps you stay productive at work. If you work in an environment where you have a lot of meetings coming up, that’s an especially good reason to practice self-care during work hours as well.
These are some self-care tips to help you keep your stress levels down when you’re between back-to-back meetings:
- Make sure to eat a healthy snack or meal before your meetings. Doing so can help reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can cause your blood sugar to drop during a meeting and contribute to an energy crash and poor decision-making.
- Stay hydrated. Dehydration can also cause high cortisol levels. A good rule of thumb is to drink half your body weight in ounces each day. If you’re meeting with clients, be sure to have water nearby, as it can be more difficult to remember to hydrate when you’re focused on your meetings.
- Use self-care apps. The same study by Microsoft’s Human Factors Lab showed that using self-care apps between meetings allows you to start your next meeting more relaxed by “resetting” your brain and reducing the overall buildup of stress across meetings. So, instead of hurriedly jumping from one meeting to the next, you can use the MindBank Ai app to take time for self-reflection during breaks.
- Go for a walk or do some light exercise between meetings. Even a quick walk around the building can help you clear your head and reset your energy levels, which can drop during a long meeting. Avoid doing strenuous exercises or exercising for long periods of time, as this can cause your cortisol levels to rise and make you feel more stressed.
- Do a stretch or light exercise between meetings. Even if you can only do a few stretches between meetings, this is better than nothing. Stretching can help you relax and refresh between meetings, which is helpful if your meetings run long.
Big Five Traits and Back-to-Back Meetings
For many people, the Big Five personality traits are a great way to manage stress from back-to-back meetings as they not only reveal a lot about your personality, but also help you become more aware of yourself. It’s because knowing how open, conscientious, extroverted, agreeable, and neurotic you are will help boost your self-awareness
MindBank Ai can measure your Big Five personality traits using the psycholinguistic models and you only need 140 words to get an accurate score.
Understand each of Big Five traits can improve your self-awareness so that you can begin to get a clearer picture of who you are as a person in reflection to your environment:
- Openness. Openness is one of the best traits to use during back-to-back meetings, since it involves actively questioning how things work, listening carefully when someone says something, and appreciating being around diverse groups of people. Openness, both to other people and to yourself, is a character trait you can develop and can help you become more open-minded and self-aware.
- Conscientiousness. Conscientiousness involves being detail-oriented, self-disciplined and dependable. By keeping track of your meetings and how often you make impulsive or careless decisions, you can improve your self-awareness.
- Extroversion. Extroversion involves being sociable and outgoing. Using MindBank Ai you may find that you reach out to other meeting attendees and put them at ease with your outgoing confidence. With this knowledge, you will also become more self-aware of your needs in life and in relationships.
- Agreeableness. Rather than being hostile and competitive, an agreeable person forgives others and works with them. By becoming more aware of your agreeableness, you can understand how to express your feelings while making sure they do not get in the way of your relationships.
- Neuroticism. As a neurotic person, you may be obsessed with small details and always strive for perfectionism, not completing tasks that others ask of you, which can lead to tension and conflict. You may also be easily agitated when stimulated, or have difficulty calming down when upset or worried. Using MindBank Ai to note the things you are grateful for will remind you that even when your life is not perfect, there is still much to appreciate around you and that you have some control over how you respond to situations.
Mental Skills Training
Struggling through several consecutive sessions can be overwhelming. But have you ever thought of looking at these meetings as a challenge that can help you build your mental skills and strengths?
Concentration, creativity, and problem-solving skills are just a few of the mental skills you possess and desperately need during non-stop daily meetings. It can be helpful to write down these and other mental skills and refer back to them when you struggle with negative feelings of unworthiness or lack of confidence during routine meetings.
It can be a warm reminder of your family vacation or moments when you helped others through difficult times and impressed everyone around you. Likewise, you can try to prove to yourself, through passion and sustained persistence aimed at long-term success, that although you are not perfect, you deserve the same loving treatment you give to others.
Therefore, one of these challenges that you can tackle with mental skills that you can cultivate with your Ai Personal Digital Twin is how to handle back-to-back meetings. Developing confidence in your ability to solve problems and trust your instincts is one of the most important factors in training your mental skills and building resilience. Give yourself a more relaxed start to your new meetings by “resetting” your brain and reducing the stress that builds up during meetings with your Ai Personal Digital Twin.
If you have time between meetings, set a reminder to take a short mindful meditation break. Meditation can help you focus your attention inward, find clarity and put things into perspective. You may also find it easier to return to work with a clear mind.
Many people think of meditation in terms of the Muktasana pose, but you can also meditate during meeting breaks by self-reflecting with your Ai Personal Digital Twin. As you self-reflect with your Ai Personal Digital Twin and as your self-awareness grows, you can see how it absorbs the entire environment in which you work or live, because you are what you think and see.
As you meditate through self-reflection, you learn to control your thoughts, because thoughts have a great impact on your moods and changing emotions, your behavioral choices, your self-confidence, the healthy risks you take or do not take, and your self-esteem and self-respect in all areas of life.
Ways to Prevent Burnout
Whatever activity you choose between back-to-back meetings, be sure to end your break with a mindful conclusion. This can be as simple as reflecting on what you’ve been doing, how you feel and what you want to accomplish in your next meeting. You can also go through the 5-step self-care checklist to refocus yourself and end your break on a positive note.
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