A recent study from the Ohio State University found that we perceive we have less time when we have an upcoming meeting (which makes sense), but as a result we do not make the best use of that time. We subjectively feel that we have less time to accomplish tasks or reach goals, often leaving a few minutes of “wiggle room” before a meeting or appointment. Individuals, on average, performed fewer tasks when they were reminded that had an upcoming appointment compared to those without the reminder.
At first I was surprised and skeptical. I feel that I am more productive when I know I have x amount of time before a meeting to knock a few items off of my to-do list. As a I read about the first study, I assumed I must be a special snowflake who does not fall into this trap. Then I read that this finding held up across eight studies.
Well, I need to re-think how I structure my days! When I have work days with 4 to 6 meetings sprinkled throughout the day, I hardly have room to breathe–let alone sit and focus on one task. With 2 to 3 meetings, my day feels entirely different. I have beautiful long, clear hours on my calendar. I fill that space by knocking off items from my to-do list, which are typically prioritized by importance. Occasionally I throw in a few easy, 5-minute tasks just to get that little dopamine hit and feel accomplished 😉
This is definitely a good lesson in time management; I wonder if knowing this will change how I am able to schedule around my meetings? If we are aware, can we counter-balance our overestimation? It seems like knowing we overestimate time before appointments or meetings could help minimize the potential time impact. I will definitely keep you updated on how incorporating this information into my day affects me.
Do you overestimate the time-cost of meetings? Do you feel like an appointment deadline makes you more or less productive?