There are a lot of things you need to do when planning a meeting. You need to determine what type of meeting you’re going to hold (for example, are you hosting in-person meetings or virtual meetings?), who needs to attend, and which important tasks you’re going to add to the agenda.
So here's a question for you: Which of the following would be the most productive time to schedule a meeting?
A. 9 a.m.
B. 10 a.m.
C. 2:30 p.m.
D. All of the above
If you guessed B or C, you'd be correct. The best times to schedule a meeting are 10 a.m. to noon for decisiveness, and 2:30 p.m. for attendance. The worst time? 9 a.m. on a Monday morning (wakey, wakey...). Employees typically have a lot to catch up on come Monday morning, so it's best to let them dig in and get caught up, before sitting down for a meeting.
The times we mentioned above are general rules, but there are other factors to consider when nailing down a time. Do your employees work late into the evenings or are they early risers? When does your team already have a ton of meetings? And when are they more open? How can you make sure your meeting time empowers your team members to be productive people—and doesn’t interrupt their workflow in a way that makes it harder to get things done?
Before You Schedule Meetings, Ask Yourself These Questions
You want your meetings to be the most productive time possible for your team—and you want to schedule your meetings at the time of day that’s going to support peak productivity. But the “right” time to schedule a meeting will depend on a variety of factors—so before you put a meeting on your team’s calendar, there are a few questions you’ll want to ask yourself, including:
- Is this meeting necessary? It doesn’t matter what time you schedule a meeting—if the meeting isn’t necessary, it’s not going to be a productive use of your or your team’s time. Before you put a meeting on your calendar, see if you can meet your objectives without a real-time meeting (for example, by sending a detailed email or Slack message or recording a video outlining key points and allowing your team to watch it on their own time).
- What are we going to be covering during the meeting? The content of the meeting will go a long way in determining what time you should schedule a meeting. For example, the best time to schedule a meeting where you need your team to be the sharpest and most engaged (like for a brainstorming meeting for a new product launch) will differ from the best time for a more passive meeting (for example, a meeting to review a new PTO policy).
- How long does this meeting need to be? Before you can choose the best time to host a meeting, you need to get clear on the amount of time you’ll need to cover the meeting topics. For example, if you need a full hour for your meeting, it’s going to be a different scheduling process than meetings you can power through in 15 minutes or less.
- What else is scheduled close to meeting time? If you want to make the most out of your meetings, you need to give your team enough time between your meeting and other tasks on their calendar; otherwise, they could feel overwhelmed—and not be as engaged or productive during team meetings as you need them to be. For example, if your team’s calendar is fully blocked for the day—except for a single 30-minute block in the middle of the day—that half-hour isn’t the right time to schedule a meeting. Instead, look for longer blocks of open time—and schedule your meeting within that block of time, making sure to leave free time before and after the meeting so your employees don’t feel rushed or overwhelmed.
Once you’ve ironed out these key details, the next step is to actually schedule your meeting. But what time of day is the most productive to schedule a meeting?
When Is the Best Time of Day to Schedule a Meeting?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question, “When is the best time of day to schedule a meeting?” The best time for your meeting will depend on a variety of factors. So, when it comes to choosing the best time for your meeting, there are a few things you’ll want to consider, including:
Attendance: 2:30 p.m.
If you want to maximize the number of team members who are free, available, and able to attend your meeting, shoot for the middle of the week and the early afternoon. Research shows that, from an attendance perspective, the ideal time to host a meeting is 2:30 p.m. on a Tuesday.
Why is this time ideal for meeting attendance? When people first get to the office, they usually don’t feel prepared to jump right into a meeting (for example, they might need to ease into the day after they wake up or catch up on emails from the previous evening)—which may make them hesitant to attend early morning meetings. The same goes for Mondays; people typically feel like they need to set themselves up for the workweek—so pushing the meeting a day or two can up your attendance rate.
Decisiveness: 10 a.m. - Noon
The more decisions you make in a given day, the harder decision-making becomes—and the more likely you are to make a hasty or incorrect decision. This is called decision fatigue—and if your meetings require your team to make any important decisions, it’s something you need to consider when choosing your meeting times.
If you want to avoid decision fatigue (and empower your team to make their best decisions during meetings) you’re going to want to schedule meetings earlier in the workday—ideally in the morning, when they haven’t been faced with too many decisions. If you wait until the end of the day, it’s going to be harder for your team to make decisions—and you may not get the outcome you want or need from your meeting.
Bottom line? If you want to avoid decision fatigue, schedule your meetings between 10 a.m. and noon.
Most Productive Time for YOUR Team is Your Call
You’ve got plenty of successful people on your team. But not all successful people like to meet at the same time. Scheduling a 10 a.m. meeting might be the most productive time for a team of early risers—while that same meeting time might make a group of night owls cringe.
Before you determine the best time to host your meeting, ask yourself what time would work best for your specific team. What time are their energy levels the highest? What times are they the most productive? What times are the highest percentage of team members available? For example, if you know the majority of your team takes their lunch break at 1 p.m., 12:45 p.m. probably wouldn’t be the best time for a meeting.
Also, if you want to know the time that your team is most productive, engaged, and ready to jump into a meeting? Ask them! Your team knows when they’re busy, when they’re available, and when they’re the most productive—so let them tell you when the best window or time frame to hold your next meeting is.
The point is, the more you tailor your meeting times to the specific needs of your team, the more successful and productive your meetings (and your team!) will be.
Additional Tips for More Productive Meetings
Need some more guidance on how to make the most of your meetings? Use these tips to deliver a solid productivity boost to your meetings—no matter what time they’re scheduled:
- Keep meetings short… The longer meetings drag on, the less engaged your team is going to be—and the less productive your meetings will be as a result. If you want to make the most out of your meetings, keep them as short as possible.
- ...and if that’s not possible, take breaks. If you need to hold a longer meeting, make sure to give your team frequent—and strategic—breaks using the Pomodoro technique. The Pomodoro technique breaks work down into cycles that promote productivity. Work through your meeting in 25-minute bursts, followed by a five minute break; that’s one cycle. After four cycles, give your team a longer break—about 30 minutes. These frequent breaks will help to keep your team more engaged and productive during your meetings—and make your meetings more successful in the process.
- Find ways to engage remote employees. Staying engaged during an in-person meeting can be tough. But staying engaged when you’re working remotely is even harder. If you’re hosting virtual meetings, make sure you’re taking steps to keep your remote employees engaged (for example, by asking questions, inviting them to present, and keeping cameras on during the meeting).
- Keep records of your meetings. Even if your meeting is productive in the moment, it’s not going to have a real impact if you or your team struggle to remember what happened during the meeting. If you want to make the most out of your meetings, make sure to keep detailed meeting minutes—including the time and date of the meeting, who was in attendance, what was discussed, and any action items team members need to tackle following the meeting—and send a copy to meeting attendees and any other key stakeholders.
- Give your team time to work without the interruption of meetings. Meetings are a great way to get clear on what needs to be done to move your team and your business forward. But if your team spends all their time in meetings, they’re not going to have the bandwidth to actually accomplish the tasks necessary to move things forward. Make sure you’re leaving unscheduled blocks of meeting-free time for your team to get things done. Even better? Schedule one day a week where meetings are off-limits; that way, your team gets a full day to knock through their to-do list—without their focus being interrupted by meetings.
Get out There and Schedule Meetings at Your Team's Most Productive Times
The most productive time to schedule a meeting will depend on a variety of factors—including when your team works best, what you’re covering during the meeting, and which meeting slots will allow your team enough time to move from their scheduled tasks to a scheduled meeting without feeling rushed and overwhelmed. Now that you know how to evaluate which times will work for meetings, all that’s left to do? Start scheduling those meetings!