Want to boost output? Ban meetings for one day every week

‘Maker days’ – where meetings are banned and staff expected to get on with project work uninterrupted – could be coming to a Wednesday near you.

A bunch of US managers are pioneering so-called ‘maker days’ – days for producing stuff and getting things done. The move comes as leaders fret that meetings are taking up so much staff time that executives often have just 30-minute intervals between meetings to actually work on projects.

The two prime midweek days – Tuesday and Wednesday – are the most popular choices for maker days. Mondays are seen as the ideal planning day – and, as such, may require staff discussion – whereas other managers have experimented with Thursdays with little joy. “By the end of the week there is a bunch of other stuff that would pile up on your to-do list,” cofounder and chief product officer of software developer Moveline Kelly Eidson told Fast Company.

The science behind maker days is that multitasking destroys productivity. In the UK alone, one billion days a year are lost to people chopping and changing tasks before one project is completed. “We all pay a cognitive price when we multitask,” said Mark Bull, chief executive of Randstad UK, a major recruitment firm. “We deplete our mental energy every time we jump from one activity to another – and that price is soaring as multi-tasking becomes more prevalent in the workplace.

“The consequences are surprisingly serious when you take into account the amount of time it takes us to regain our flow following another interruption.”

The science of the working week

Monday – Planning day: People want to lay out their week and discuss weekly plans with internal colleagues.

Tuesday – Power day: Staff are still fresh from the weekend but have cleared the planning burden associated with Mondays.

Wednesday – Maker day: Take a break from meetings. Get projects off the ground or complete them free from distractions.

Thursday – Ideas day: With most of the week under your belt, meet clients and colleagues to discuss new project ideas.

Friday – Finishing day: Tie up loose ends for the week so you are fresh and ready to start again on Monday.