Meetings. Ugh. Most of them are a waste because they aren't structured with an agenda, don't have the right people in them, and don't result in action items and follow-ups. Then when you do have to have longer meetings (how many of you have been in those year-end strategic planning meetings or audit reviews?!), most of us (especially introverts) are completely drained.
Recent studies are showing that taking time for silence restores the nervous system, helps sustain energy, and conditions our minds to be more adaptive and responsive to the complex environments in which so many of us now live, work, and lead. And that QUIET TIME is what we all need immediately following these long and draining meetings.
In order to quiet your mind and get the recovery needed to continue on with your day, do these things immediately following a meeting:
1. Send out meeting notes
Notes are a powerful way to influence others. They inform people who weren’t in attendance about what happened and remind those who were there about what agreements they made. You can use them to keep everyone on the same page and focused on what you all need to get done before you meet next. This meeting summary is an important part of improving employee and team engagement.
Make sure you send out meeting notes as soon as possible as your ability to remember and capture the essence of each conversation lessens with each passing hour!
2. Follow up
Persistence is a key influence skill. If you want anything to happen, you must follow up, follow up, and follow up. And then follow up again. Any sales person knows how important follow up is in order to build trust and close a deal.
As leaders and managers, we tend to think that people are self-starters—when they really aren't. Most talented, committed people do not always do what they say they will do, and we shouldn’t be surprised when they don’t. We are all pulled in all different directions and overwhelmed with tons of work. If you want a project to be completed, you have to follow up regularly, and the best way to follow up is to set up reminders in your calendar. It's important to do this right after a meeting so you don't forget and things get done!
Okay, now that those two things are set, you can create QUIET TIME for yourself!
But cultivating silence isn’t just about getting relief from the distractions of the office. Real sustained silence, the kind that facilitates clear and creative thinking, quiets inner and outer chatter.
It’s about taking a temporary break from one of life’s most basic responsibilities: Having to think of what to say! Hal Gregersen states that cultivating silence “increase[s] your chances of encountering novel ideas and information and discerning weak signals.” And this is INCREDIBLY important as you move up the ladder at your company and grow your business.
A few things I suggest that have worked well for me and many other successful people are:
* Spend a couple hours in nature - "oh but I don't have time for that!" You can't afford NOT to. Immersion in nature can be the clearest option for improving creative thinking capacities. I mean, Henry David Thoreau went to the woods for a reason.
* Go on a technology/media fast - Seriously....your phone and laptop are NOT important. With all the message notifications we have these days we need to learn to quiet them. Two things I do: turn my phone off for a couple hours a day, and make sure every notification is turned off. Do you really need to know when a new email comes through? Or when you have a message on LinkedIn? Or whatever other apps you have? Nope. If something is incredibly important, a person will pick up the phone and call you!
* Schedule and pay for monthly outings - you need to take care of yourself! For example, pay for a round of golf and put it in your calendar. Schedule and pay for a massage. When you do things like this, you commit. AND you have something to look forward to that changes your attitude - you get excited and these activities are ones that you can use to quiet your brain.
The world is getting louder. But silence is still accessible—it just takes commitment and creativity to cultivate it.