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TCV Insights

Scheduling Meetings - Ten Minute Breaks

By Josh Hammonds, Ph.D. -

We HAVE TO STOP scheduling meetings back to back. Your brain needs a 10 minute break -- and the research is now CRYSTAL CLEAR on this.

A study from Microsoft is making its way in the headlines again -- and it's reminding us that the brain NEEDS to reset between meetings.


Using EEG caps to detect brain wave activity and stress detection -- the experiment had 2 groups of participants sit through 4 meetings back to back, with one group allowing 10 minute breaks in between each meeting. The data showed that the group who took breaks experienced a RESET in brain stress activity.

Scientists concluded that the transition from one meeting's agenda to the next COMPOUNDED the stress of the employees -- as they were forced to switch and think about the new challenge immediately awaiting them BEFORE they had closure on the challenges they were currently facing.

This confirms numerous studies that show how much stress is involved in "switch tasking." In other words, the brain needs CLOSURE on one topic, before advancing to another--and since people will often begin thinking about a future event minutes before it happens, employees with back-to-back meetings are feeling both stressed from the lack of closure from one meeting, while ANTICIPATING the uncertainties and potential issues with a new agenda in an upcoming meeting.

And we wonder why burnout is at an all-time high?


So what's the cure?

End meetings 10 minutes before the hour. Hard stop.

Tell your employees to walk away from their workspace (or conference table). Go for a walk. Clear your head. RESET.

We THINK we are being 'efficient' by scheduling meetings back-to-back. But in reality, the energy we bring to the 2nd, 3rd, 7th meeting of the day is far worse if we're not taking breaks. Stress creates cortisol -- and cortisol impairs your thinking greatly.

Breaks between meetings will make you more restored, more creative, and more productive.

And if you geek out over research about leadership development -- be sure to subscribe to my newsletter: the Leader Prompt


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