LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner shared a secret of his on LinkedIn earlier this month: schedule time for nothing. He talks about the importance of “buffers,” or time between meetings that allow for some down time to process what is going on and to just think.
While these breaks can seem indulgent, he admits, it is important to schedule them into your days, so you don’t leave them to chance. By taking a walk, catching up on industry news, or just processing all the information that happened in the morning meeting, employees can think bigger and leaders can become better. Here’s more:
As an organization scales, the role of its leadership needs to evolve and scale along with it. I’ve seen this evolution take place along at least two continuum: from problem solving to coaching and from tactical execution to thinking strategically. What both of these transitions require is time, and lots of it. Endlessly scheduling meeting on top of meeting and your time to get these things right evaporates.
Take coaching, for example. It’s often quicker for senior leaders to solve people’s problems for them. You’ve amassed years of experience solving the issues being brought to you. But doing so provides short-term relief at a longer time cost. As the organization gets larger, so too will the frequency of those issues, yet there remains only one of you. Unless you can coach others to address challenges directly, you will quickly find yourself in a position where that’s all you’re doing (adding even more meetings to your day). That’s no way to run a team or a company.
Learning what makes people tick — their unique perspectives, fears, motivations, team dynamics, etc. — and properly coaching them to the point that they can not only solve the issue on their own the next time around, but successfully coach their own team takes far more time than telling them what to do. The only way to sustainably make that investment in people is by not jumping from one meeting to the next but rather carving out the time to properly coach those who stand to benefit from it the most. Equally if not more importantly is taking time in between those meetings to recharge. I want to ensure I’m at my best when coaching the next person who needs it.
What do you think of Weiner’s advice? How do you like to take breaks that make you more productive?