Is the post prandial dip killing your meetings?

post prandial dip

The post prandial dip can play havoc with your meeting effectiveness. Here’s some tactics to stop that happening.

I think it’s worth starting the blog by explaining just what the post prandial dip actually is. Basically it’s the afternoon slump. What you eat for lunch is often a factor but the slump can occur regardless. In fact it’s human nature to feel sleepy in the afternoon. We could end the blog here and tell you all to grab a 2 hour nap in the afternoon, but seen as though that’s not always possible and we’re all about better meetings we’ve come up with a few tactics that can help avoid this in your meetings.

What goes up must come down

Food can be a major factor influencing the slump. Scientifically what’s happening when you eat the wrong kind of foods is either too much refined sugar in your system or low blood sugar. As always to maintain a healthy balance you should try to eat a lunch that consist of carbs, protein and fats. 2 mars bars and a protein shake is not the answer, equally a huge meal with loads of carbs might be delicious but it won’t do your afternoon alertness any favours. As always it’s about striking a balance and ensuring you minimise the drop in energy.

Don’t fight an uphill battle

It would be easy to suggest that food is the only factor in the afternoon slump. It isn’t. Science suggests that a drop in energy in the afternoon is also something that’s hardwired into our systems. Our bodies are governed by circadian rhythms which ebb and flow through the day. researchers discovered dips in alertness during the time we are usually asleep, midnight to dawn but also a secondary dip between 1pm and 4pm. the smart advice is to save the heavy thinking meetings for outside of these times. Preferably the morning when people are at there most alert. If you must meet keep plenty of low GI snacks on hand to keep energy levels up, avoid anything with a high refined sugar content and keep meetings short.

Make it easy for your team

A great way to stave off the afternoon slump is to eat healthily, exercise and get good sleep. As an organisation you can help, have plenty of healthy snacks on hand, provide gym memberships as a perk and don’t routinely keep your employees working until late evening. Smart organisations understand that getting the most out of employees isn’t about the length of time sat at desks, it’s about ensuring they are able to perform when it’s needed.

If you really want to shake the tree try a walking meeting or combine meetings with any activity designed to stave off the slump. It’s impractical to suggest you write off the hours between 1-4pm but it is very practical if you understand that certain meetings are likely to be less effective at this time.

Reach for the coffee

We all know coffee and caffeine is great to stave of sleepiness. It’s also a good option to boost energy post lunch. A scientific study showed that coffee staved of tiredness and improved post-lunch attention and concentration compared to a control group. But, be careful too much coffee is bad for you, and not everyone drinks it. Try tea or something else with caffeine. We should caveat this by saying we’re not suggesting you force feed your employees coffee to keep them alert! We think you’re sensible enough to realise this though.

Keep meetings short in the afternoon, plan them effectively.

If you have to meet in the afternoon keep it short. Plan the meeting well in advance, don’t let it meander. This is where a tool like Amazemeet comes in. The right attendees, the right focus and the right outcomes are only achieved by good meeting design and that’s exactly what Amazemeet does. Grab a look for yourself via the link below.

The addiction of meetings, how to break the cycle.

It’s official we’re addicted to meetings. We have reached the zenith of meeting culture, in some organisations employees spend at least 50% of their time in meetings. It’s become somewhat of a joke at certain organisations, like the BBC in the UK, where some employees entire working week is spent in endless rounds of meetings with little notion of effectiveness or concrete outcomes.

Technology has done us no favours simply making “the drug” more accessible and more easy to schedule than ever before. Like all addictions we know it’s bad for us but we do it anyway. Management research is almost uniformly hostile towards endless meetings but in this age of post truth and post facts we carry on regardless failing to have the better meetings we strive for.

Meetings have variously been described as the “silent productivity killers” but this belies the fact that from time to time they do need to happen. Actions needs to be discussed and outcomes agreed and this often works best when a collective of minds come together. In fact meetings can be amazing, they’re not, but that’s where Amazemeet comes in.

 

 

So how do we break the cycle of something we are so deeply addicted to?

 

One of the major culprits in ineffective meetings is the lack of an agenda. It seems kinda obvious but so many meetings take place without a clear idea of why?

The agenda goes hand in hand with the outcomes. Without a clear idea of what is being discussed and what decisions need to be made meetings can be like meandering down the river on lazy Sunday afternoon.

Often overlooked, how many times have you sat in a meeting thinking I really don’t need to be here or worse I really shouldn’t be here? It’s become culturally normal for purposeless meetings to be called simply as a way of exerting management control or even worse as de facto therapy sessions, inviting as many people as possible to the theatre. Just think if you spend 2 hours a week in one of these that’s over 2 weeks starring at a colleague who is probably thinking the same thing.

You need a way to say no. Or to be more precise you need a way to say no that actually benefits what the meeting is trying to achieve.

 

Can we actually change this?

 

Like any cultural shift it’s not going to be easy. But then we got used to using our phones to book cabs instead of standing on the sidewalk with our arm held out.

We believe the key lies in outcomes. Demonstrable better outcomes from following a process and a format to have more effective meetings will be the real driver. When you can genuinely say:

That meeting was productive

I didn’t attend that meeting, I got on with my tasks and the meeting was better for it.

When we meet we know things will move forward.

We meet less and more effectively and we’re a happier company for it.

Then we know we are moving forward. That kind of sentiment can’t be ignored. In fact I bet there’s a lot of people who will want some of that.

 

Amazemeet is building a community and a platform to make meetings better. Be a part of this sign-up below.

Mindfulness for #Success: It Takes Three Simple Steps and No Meditation

Did you hear about executives taking up mindfulness for success?

I learned about mindfulness at University. From day one I was hooked and proceeded to spend all of my time into pouring over journal articles on the topic. The more I did, the more value I saw in it — it bolsters up your immune system, improves concentration and productivity, and relieves stress. It could even be one of the keys to longevity.

However, there is a problem when it comes to pitching mindfulness to modern people. The modern person is more data-driven than heart-driven. So what’s the first thing you imagine when you hear mindfulness?

meditation

You’re also thinking there’s no way that could help your day-to-day routine, right? Don’t worry, that’s what I’m here for: to break the association. 

There has been a misconception about mindfulness — that it is a spiritual thing, which is not entirely true. While you can make it whatever you want it to be, data-driven people tend to steer clear from heart-driven practices.

If you have heard of the Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh, you probably know that he’s been consulting a bunch of high-profile tech companies in Silicon Valley. CEO’s have spent a lot of time and money on “turning towards their inner selves and realizing the truth of our inner-connectedness”.

That’s a beautiful concept but… it’s definitely a good way to lose a skeptic. Not to mention, there are wildly inaccurate definitions like:

Mindfulness is a form of meditation rooted in spiritual teaching in which people focus their full attention on the present moment.

This is why you might think mindfulness is bullshit — because it sounds so far removed from your modern values. But let’s see…

What mindfulness really is

The best working definition is:

the ability to cultivate a focused, non-judgmental awareness on the present moment

It’s not about connecting to your inner self or your spirit animal or God. It doesn’t even require you to meditate! It’s about being present. Simply, mindfulness is the opposite of mindlessness. Examples of mindlessness:

  • Rushing through activities without being attentive to them.
  • Breaking or spilling things because of carelessness, inattention, or thinking of something else.
  • Failing to notice subtle feelings of physical tension or discomfort.
  • Forgetting a person’s name almost as soon as we’ve heard it.
  • Finding ourselves preoccupied with the future or the past.
  • Snacking without being aware of eating.

How often do you experience those? Yeah, me too.

When it feels like everything is vying for your attention — the media, the family, the boss, the past, the future — you split yourself in so many ways that you don’t even realize what the consequences are — lower productivity, shorter attention span, inability to enjoy a pleasant moment, etc.

This is why you need mindfulness to anchor you to the present moment.

undivided attention

Wouldn’t that be something? Anything you’re doing right now could be enhanced into something magnificent.

If you recall, there’s a powerful read called Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi who talks about this wonderful state of consciousness where you’re immersed in the moment, completely satisfied by what you’re doing. And while that usually happens when you create things, it could be achieved in other contexts, too. Mindfulness can take you there because it makes you an active participant in the process, as opposed to a distracted one that only does a half-ass job.

Not to mention… when you make decisions and assign tasks, you’re always hung up on all the details and people involved. It’s a good break for the brain to simply look at something as it is, as opposed to how you see it — sometimes creativity and innovation depend on it.

How can you become more mindful?

Now we’re getting to it. I’m not really a fan of meditation, so it’s good news that I don’t have to do it to achieve mindfulness. Sure, there are mindfulness meditation (Vipassana) and loving kindness meditation, but you and me can learn to be present by following three simple steps:

  1. Noticing
  2. Accepting and —
  3. Practicing

What are you doing right now? Stop. Look around you. Smell the air. Is it fresh? How does it feel against your skin? How does breathing feel?

Focus on those questions and the answers that come naturally. Don’t get distracted. The moment your mind starts veering off into its previous routine of round-and-round thinking, pinch yourself and go back to feeling the air and seeing your surroundings. Right now, you’re aware of everything — you’re noticing things without the interruptions of your mind, and noticing is the difference between looking and seeing.

Whatever you’re seeing or feeling right now, I want you to accept it.

This is the tricky part because we are all a bit of control freaks. But when you accept things, you feel like a huge weight has been lifted. This is because you’ve been carrying the weight of judgment. When you remove judgment from seeing, it’s just experiencing. Nothing more. And it feels light because your mind is unencumbered by something it wasn’t built for.

programming

Finally, if you want to be able to be mindful at will, you have to habitualize the process. They say it takes 10,000 kicks and 30 days to internalize a process, but that’s a number’s game. Instead, try with a trigger and routine. (Borrowed from The Power of Habit and Hooked.)

The trigger might be a yawn during the day or a headache at the end of it. It could a time of day or someone saying a particular word. The trigger will act as an alarm to wake you up from your default autopilot program.

For example, it could be blue buttons you stick around you, and you have to pause and be mindful when you see them. (But that could be quite often.)

Whatever trigger you chose, you have to always follow up with your routine — which can be anything involving noticing things and suspending judgment. If you can be mindful for one minute every day, you’ll get the hang of it, and the results will last you a lifetime. The rest is just practice.

Personally, I have benefited from mindfulness in two instances:

  1. When I have to wait in line and —
  2. When I’m enjoying good time with friends

In the first instance, my trigger is queuing up on a line. While I’d usually get worked up and impatient about it, not I’m just quiet and calm.

In the second instance, it’s helped me to stop and connect to a happy moment. I mean, there’s all this wonderful energy around me and I’m reminded of work or checking my phone or thinking about what I’m going to say next. Now I have to stop and look around —marvel at how perfect my life is at this moment in time. It’s a much-needed treat.

Do you have your trigger and routine in mind? You can wing it, but it would be even better if you took the time to write them down now. I’d be super-happy to see them in the comments below. 🙂

Why Walking Meetings Are Good for Your Brain, Your Life, and Your Job

What are you doing right now?

I bet my butt that you’re sitting. You might think I’ve gone bonkers, thinking ‘how is my sitting any of her business’. It’s not my business.

It’s your problem.

We sit for about 9.3 hours per day — that’s more than the 7.7 hours we spend sleeping. Sitting has also been found to increase the likelihood of developing some diseases like cancer and diabetes. Horrific, really.

In the words of Nilofer Merchant (from her TED talk):

Sitting is the smoking of our generation.

This is why people all over the world have been thinking of solutions like the standing desk — remember when that was trending? Another simple enough solution is: just stand up and walk about a bit. It’s a common practice at Wellness & Prevention, where employees are required to do so for one or two minutes every half hour. It was found to increase productivity.

Nilofer herself adopted the practice of walking in her busy schedule: by turning one-on-one coffee meetings into “walking meetings”, which were also popular with tech giants like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg.

So let’s see why you should add walking to your busy schedule.

A change of scenery

Context shapes behavior. You’re like a walking reflection of your surroundings, and the more you stay inside the stuffy office or board room, the more you’ll feel stuffy and closed up.

If you’re looking for a re-charge or new ideas, walking outside can literally boost your cognitive function and even your memory. Furthermore, changing the scenery makes you snap out of your “work stupor”.

But beware, if you walk out into a busy street, you’ll probably start to feel stressed, so it’s better if you find a park. Stepping into Nature provides immediate relief, acting as a “reset” button. And because we spend our lives in artificial environments, our brains become even more eager to reconnect with Nature. This is why some people surround themselves with green — to trick the brain into believing it’s there, but the real thing is better.

A blast of fresh air

How many times have you taken a deep breath today?

Your brain needs tons of oxygen to operate properly. While breathing is mostly an unconscious process, you must remember that you CAN control it.

Like, for example, when you’re stressed. When you’re stressed your heart rate goes up, pumping blood like there’s no tomorrow, making you take shallow breaths. If you want to de-stress, you need to take deep breaths. Then the heart goes back to its normal rate, the adrenaline subsides, and the brain calms down, ready for the rest of the work day.

Obviously, the quality of air you inhale is also important — the stale, recycled air of the office is not good enough —  so I suggest taking a walk in the park (don’t forget the sandwich on your desk). And breathe deep.

A dash of creativity

Research shows that walking enhances creativity. In a study of students completing tasks, those who walked showed greater creativity than those who sat. When you walk, your mind naturally wanders and comes up with new ideas. Perhaps this is why so many famous creators of the past took long walks in Nature — to get their creative juices flowing.

It’s an amazing discovery, especially now that the bulk of our working lives is sedentary, both for office workers and remote workers. Also, this changes the game for brainstorming sessions. They shouldn’t take place inside the office, after hours and hours of work, they should follow a power walk!

Granted, I’m not impartial on this subject — I am an avid walker. Which is why this article — Why Walking Helps Us Think in The New Yorker — sparked the idea for my own. Give it a read if you’ve got the time.

A bit of perspective

This is where things get interesting.

Your brain makes powerful associations. For example, your desk screams work and your bed screams rest, right? Right.

What happens when you walk side-by-side to someone?

They become your equal. The brain automatically throws away the hierarchy, the prejudice, and just assumes that the person sweating and puffing next to you is someone who is working with you.

Perhaps this is why Mark Zuckerberg likes to walk new hires around Facebook Headquarters. Maybe this is his way of bonding with them. Whatever the reason, if you want to meet with someone face-to-face and drop the corporate mumbo-jumbo, try a walking meeting.

Just remember, walking too fast or too slow might not produce the best results. The perfect pace is your natural pace. Hopefully, your walking buddy will have one that’s similar to yours.

A few considerations

First of all, if you’re considering to pick up walking meetings, you know that they’re most effective when it’s just you and somebody else. A whole group of people walking together will never reach any consensus because they’ll have to out-scream one another and make a scene on the street.

Secondly, I have found that if you’re considering to taking these walks alone, the process itself is not only beneficial for creativity, but it can also act as an incubation period when you’re solving a problem or making a decision.

Finally, you need to stop making excuses — I’m not fit enough, I don’t have enough time, people won’t like that — and start taking care of your health. You don’t have to compromise your health for the sake of your job.

So start today. Set an example. And stay healthy. 🙂