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What’s the best day to schedule your meeting on?

By Tilman Eberle, Doodle
How much thought do you give to when you schedule and when you attend meetings? Maybe you have a PA or secretary that arranges this for you or perhaps you just invite people to meetings without factoring in too much other than youravailability?meeting

A quick straw poll might suggest that meetings are generally concentrated in the middle of the week. Mondays are probably best avoided – shaking off the weekend and planning the week ahead – and Fridays are too – don’t want too busy a day as you head into the weekend. So we were as surprised as anyone when analysis of Doodle’s 10M global users (500,000 in the UK) revealed that in fact, Fridays were the day when most meetings were taking place.

The weekend starts here…or does it
Doodle is an online tool that allows groups of people to arrange a mutually convenient time to meet. We analysed scheduling patterns across all our users and found that more than a quarter of all working week meetings are taking place on a Friday, making the last day of the week the best day of the week for having your meeting accepted.

There is a popular perception, certainly in the UK, that Fridays are almost a half-day. Sure, you do the essentials and meet your daily deadlines but people generally do not want to start anything that might get in the way of a good start to the weekend.Work / life balance is increasingly important and people perhaps feel that a busy Friday can get impact on that. Our data analysis refutes that myth and in fact found that the further a week progressed the more likely people were to accept a meeting invitation.

Monday is by far the least popular day for work meetings to take place, with just 12.3 per cent of meetings taking place that day. However, it is the most popular day for scheduling meetings, whether that’s work meetings during the week or socialising at the weekend – there is 30 per cent more scheduling done on Mondays than there is on Fridays.

People not wanting to attend meetings on a Monday is perhaps understandable.  People are getting back into the swing of the working week on a Monday and are in planning mode for the rest of week, so it stands to reason that they are less keen to accept newly scheduled meetings and prefer instead to schedule their meetings for later in the week.

But the preference for Friday meetings is more surprising. Perhaps though, the chance to get away from your desk for an hour or two is seen as preferable to ‘real’ work. Perhaps people are more creative and inspired in a meeting when they know the weekend is ahead. Or maybe it is just a day that is less cluttered for people in business.

Too many meetings?
I believe the reason for so many Friday meetings is because meetings are perceived as an ‘easy’ part of a job and scheduling these on a Friday makes for good work / life balance going into the weekend. There are no immediate actions (although actions will arise in the course of the meeting), it is a chance to communicate with colleagues and unless they go on for an inordinate amount of time, meetings are not considered overly taxing on the participants. Yet the issue of meetings in business, and the time spent scheduling them is a pertinent one.

People spend a high proportion of their working week participating in meetings. Most of us will have uttered an inward sigh as another meeting enters its third hour, with yet more actions joining an already lengthy to-do list. Meetings with clients, partners, prospects and internal stakeholders can be a genuine barrier to productive working and the time spent in meetings could add up to weeks over a calendar year.

Such a strain on resources and man hours can take its toll on a business but meetings are hard to avoid, a fully-established element of business life and for the time being at least, here to stay.Even arranging those meetings can be a drain on your time though and we’ve all been witness to the constant to’ing and fro’ing of emails that come with trying to coordinate a meeting with several participants.

Whether you have a PA, secretary or manage your own diary it can be time consuming staying on top of meetings. Previous Doodle research has shown that people actually spend almost four full days per year coordinating meetings so when scheduling meetings people should try to give a range of options to find the most suitable time and reduce that wasted admin time.

Our top five tips for effective meeting scheduling are as follows:

  1. Provide people with a range of date / time options for the meeting
  2. Avoid the start of the week when people are in planning mode for the rest of week and reluctant to commit to meetings
  3. Be clear about the purpose – people will reject a meeting for meetings’ sake
  4. Don’t let it drag – allocate a specific meeting length and sticking to it
  5. Do the planning quickly and properly. People don’t like to keep the agenda blocked with tentative dates

We were surprised when our analysis revealed Fridays to be the most popular day for work meetings. But given the chance to reflect, it does make sense. People wish to avoid the start of the week and feel that a meeting on Friday will take them away from the normal working routine and hopefully provide a not-too-taxing last day of the working week, thus making them feel like their work / life balance is correct.

Whether you feel meetings are taxing or not, the idea that people wind down for the weekend on a Friday does not appear to be true and perhaps those Friday post-work drinks are needed to recover from all the meetings people have taken part in that day!