5 min read

Why Scheduling Meetings Back to Back is a Bad Idea

Some negative results of back-to-back meetings are

  • Reduced productivity 
  • Increased stress
  • Limited focus 
  • Poor time management 
  • Lack of creativity 
  • Reduced communication
  • Fatigue 
  • Poor decision-making 

Back to back meetings

Looking busy is a skill, an art and more often than not, a waste of time. Ironically. We’re so conditioned to perform this idea of a busy, productive and preoccupied person spending all their time in back to back meetings that in doing so we often forget to actually be productive. 

Our idea of the perfect professional stems from high rollers, megalomaniacs and savvy mavens we see in film and television and somewhere along the line we decided that we should reenact our own renditions of these fabled few in our everyday lives. 

Just think of some of the most engaging businessmen and women you’ve seen cripple rival companies or corporate bear hug into submission. 

Think Mad Men, think Scandal, think Billions, think Succession. Everyone is just so damn busy or at least very capable at seeming so.  

Back to back meetings and a chaotic, cramped calendar has somehow become a desirable outcome. A sign of sorts that you’ve managed to win an appraisal as both someone who is extremely in-demand and a deified industry titan whose services are out of reach, for most anyway. 

In today’s attention economy though, this outdated style of personal brand that cultivates appeal and affection by being unattainable, is just not something most people gravitate towards as they look for instant gratification and an expedited approach to service delivery. 

Simply put, your back to back jam-packed schedule could be hurting your business instead of helping it. No one wants to be met with a brick wall when getting sent a booking link and you would be hard pressed to find someone who enjoys a scheduling back and forth that lasts days if not weeks. 

Barring the optics of being a permanently committed and book-and-busy person in back to back meetings , there’s also the small matter of your health. Turns out, to the surprise of none, that incessant activity without rest and downtime in your workday has seriously negative effects on your brain and general wellbeing. 

Why you shouldn't schedule back to back meetings

Some other negative effects of an overly scheduled calendar include:

  • Reduced Productivity: Scheduling meetings back to back without any buffer time between them can reduce your productivity by not allowing you to catch up with pending tasks or prepare for the next meeting.
  • Increased Stress: Back to back meetings can lead to increased stress levels, leaving you with no time to relax or recharge, which can lead to burnout.
  • Limited Focus: Having huge amounts of meetings everyday can limit your focus as you may not have enough time to process the information from the previous meeting and prepare for the next one.
  • Poor Time Management: Scheduling meetings without any breaks can be a sign of poor time management as it doesn't allow you to manage your time effectively.
  • Lack of Creativity: When you are constantly in meetings without any breaks, it can limit your creativity and prevent you from thinking outside the box.
  • Reduced Communication: Incessant meetings can reduce communication as you may not have enough time to process the information from the previous meeting and prepare for the next one.
  • Increased Fatigue: Having back to back meetings can lead to increased fatigue, leaving you feeling tired and drained, which can affect your performance in subsequent meetings.
  • Poor Decision Making: Being in meetings all day without any breaks can lead to poor decision making as you may not have enough time to process the information and make informed decisions.
  • Reduced Engagement: When you are constantly in meetings without any breaks, it can reduce your engagement and interest in the meeting topics, which can affect your ability to contribute effectively.
  • Health Risks: Sitting in back to back meetings for long hours without any breaks can lead to health risks such as back pain, eye strain, and poor circulation.

Alternatives to scheduling back to back meetings

So how do we create a quality over quantity meeting and scheduling infrastructure that still responds to the demands and pressures of today’s markets without resorting to back to back meetings? Hint: It’s not easy. 

  • Prioritize Your Meetings: Evaluate which meetings are crucial and which ones can be rescheduled or delegated to someone else. This will help you free up some time in your schedule and avoid back-to-back meetings.
  • Block Out Buffer Time Between Meetings: Schedule buffer time between meetings to allow yourself to catch up on emails, prepare for the next meeting, or take a short break. This will also help you avoid being late for your next meeting.
  • Use Reliable Meeting Technology: Use technology such as video conferencing or phone calls instead of in-person meetings when possible. This will save you time by eliminating the need for travel and allow you to schedule meetings more efficiently.
  • Set Boundaries in Your Meetings: Learn to say no to meetings that are not essential to your work or that can be handled by someone else. This will help you avoid overcommitting and having a cramped schedule.
  • Optimize Your Meeting Schedule: Use a scheduling tool or software to help you optimize your schedule and avoid back-to-back meetings. This will help you identify free time slots and prioritize your meetings effectively.

Looking beyond back to back meetings

The art of looking busy and acting out productivity as a performance with back to back meetings is like wearing a Halloween costume to work every day. Sure, it may look impressive and convince everyone that you're a hard-working superhero, but in reality, it's just a façade. 

This kind of behavior not only wastes everyone's time but also creates a toxic work environment where employees, friends and peers feel pressured to constantly appear productive, rather than actually being productive. 

So let's put the theatrics away and focus on the real work at hand because at the end of the day, true productivity speaks for itself, no fancy dress-up required.