Meetings

The Most Productive Time for Meetings: Before Lunch

By / Sep 25, 2018 (gradyreese/Getty Images)

To get the most out of your meetings, schedule them while minds are fresh and moods are up—and ahead of the afternoon slump.

You know the dreaded midafternoon slump: that loss of energy that no amount of caffeine can fix. Do you keep it in mind when you book time on your—and your colleagues’—calendar?

Rule of thumb: For maximum productivity, schedule meetings and calls before lunch.

It’s true that people might hit their peak productivity at different times, but they are likely to feel more energized in the morning after a good night’s rest, said Josh Davis, author of Two Awesome Hours: Science-Based Strategies to Harness Your Best Time and Get Your Most Important Work Done, in an interview with Fast Company.

“Even if you didn’t sleep great but enough, you probably have much more mental energy to willfully refocus and let things go that don’t matter,” he said. “You can think creatively and have more capacity to use your prefrontal cortex instead of being on autopilot.”

Executives are also more likely to be in a better mood earlier in the day, according to Daniel Pink, the behavioral science author behind the book When.

After lunch, especially if it’s a carb-loaded meal, energy levels can drop dramatically—leaving you and your team less able to focus and get work done later in the day. For meetings that require a lot of brainpower, the morning hours are usually best.

Just ask Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who takes important meetings only during the first half of his day.

“I do my high-IQ meetings before lunch,” he said during a recent interview with the Economic Club of Washington, DC. “Like anything that’s going to be really mentally challenging, that’s a 10 o’clock meeting. And by 5 p.m., I’m like, ‘I can’t think about that today. Let’s try this again tomorrow at 10 a.m.’”

Of course, finding the perfect time to touch base with your coworkers can be difficult when you’re juggling multiple schedules. But if you’re planning an important meeting in the late afternoon, consider holding off until the morning so your team can come refreshed and prepared to bring their best thinking.

Jeff Hsin

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