Small Changes, Big Impact

I'm back from a few days off, a quick trip with some sunshine and much needed downtime. Which got me thinking quite a bit about a lot of little things...specifically that my team and I have tried over the years to take back some time and more control in our schedules and our days. Coming off a short break can be daunting, refreshing or somewhere in between for many of us who work a lot, set high expectations for ourselves, and want to always take care of our internal and external constituents. Here are my musings on a few small changes anyone can make, with potentially big impact.

During the pandemic, most of our calendars just exploded with meetings. It didn't matter if you were in a client-facing role or an internal support role...everyone just assumed you were free for every waking minute of every day. I am going to assume you are nodding your head in agreement right now? No one was flying. No one was commuting. We were all just available to work. Never mind if we were also managing young kids, or school-aged children, or restless teenagers, or other complicated and weird family dynamics. All day every day video calls, sure no problem.

And here we are, several years later, and maybe hybrid work isn't working so well. We haven't figured it out. Many teams still want tons of accessibility and availability, and have an assumption (even subconsciously) that we can all still say yes to video calls and meetings all of the time.


At the beginning of 2021, my team and I met to discuss the new year. We decided back to back to back (to back) one hour meetings all day long was not in all of our best interests. We lead a lot of trainings, webinars, and sessions, sometimes for hundreds of people. We were willing to try anything at all that might change the dynamic, not only for ourselves, but all those we serve through our programming.

The #50minutemeeting became the standard for our team and our sessions - and our attendees loved the new format.

We started scheduling 50 minute meetings instead of one hour sessions. We became disciplined with sticking to the boundaries. Sure, it was hard to adjust our own internal clocks, conditioned from years and years of letting meetings go a full hour (or longer). But, it has definitely been worth it.

Modeling a university schedule with class change breaks, those 10 minutes between some meetings were an incredible gift. In 10 minutes you can actually check the mail (and let the dog out at the same time), get a water, maybe even send a text or two or make a call. Very different than the cadence of back to back to back.

If you lead meetings, even if only occasionally, this one is worth trying. I promise.

No Camera Fridays

We are all in different roles. Some of us are back to the office and back to seeing clients all of the time. For those of us mostly virtual, or in a hybrid role, it might also feel like that camera is still always on.

Introducing no camera Fridays.

Our team started trying this at the beginning of 2022 at the recommendation of Shelby Prill, and it has been a huge hit. Like the traditional casual Friday in the office pre-pandemic, no camera Fridays bring a collective sigh of relief at the end of the week.

I've even noticed I'm now more comfortable leaving my camera off on other days too. I sometimes think better up and around. I don't need to be staring at others and myself all of the time - especially those I've already met in real life and have strong relationships already established.

Silencing phone notifications

Years ago, maybe five now, I asked my son change all my iPhone settings. Then last year, I had him teach me how to make even more changes.

Vibrations for calls and texts have been off for years. Each family member now has a unique text tone and ring tone. Other setting changes let me choose when to interact with my phone, instead of my phone always interrupting me. Some might not agree with this philosophy, and some might have real and legitimate reasons at work and personally to hear (and feel with vibration) every single text, call, social media update, and so on. But, even as I write this paragraph, I'm receiving a spam call on my iPhone. It's just showing up on the screen sitting next to me, which I clearly saw anyway. No ringing to distract me even further.

Small changes, big impact.

Now that I've habitually tried (and evaluated) all three of these key buckets - phone setting changes, the #50minutemeeting, and no camera Fridays - I can tell you without a doubt, they are here to stay in my own life. I highly encourage you to try one or two or all three in the near future. You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain.

P.S. I found Four Thousand Weeks, Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman to be insightful, humorous, and hard to put down.

P.S.S. Next week's post...the old-fashioned telephone, and how to harness it for prospecting efforts and relationship building.