When I’m on the phone I prefer to stand up. I can think more clearly when I do that. When I’m focussing on what I want to say in an upcoming presentation, I pace up and down. I love going out with colleagues round the block, for ‘walking meetings’. In the office I often run upstairs to quickly ask a question in person rather than send an email. I have to move in order to think.
Pallet trucks and wine boxes
I started off my career working in supermarket retail, and one aspect I loved was the combination of doing management stuff, like reports, analysis, plans, meetings, 1-1s, AND then being able to go off into the warehouse for an hour and stack heavy boxes of wine. Or unload a wagon (big lorry). The combination of using my head and then doing physical work was great.
I miss that. Office based jobs so sedentary. Before I started my current role, 8 months ago, I spent most of the previous month outdoors. Although it was January, and freezing cold, I walked the Cleveland Way and then the Speyside Way. On my own. It was bliss. And the funny thing was, in my first weeks at work, my body felt so much stiffer and more sore than I had when I was hiking. That happened again last week when I got back from 2 weeks holiday. Weird.
Walking and standing meetings
Anyway, returning to the subject of walking meetings, they are so simple to do. They work well for any 1-1 or small group meeting when you don’t need visual aids or to pour over documents. And having a set length, like walking round the block, seems to work amazingly well for focussing people on coming to a conclusion by the time you get back to the office. Another method that many people practice is ‘standing meetings’ – where everyone stands up. That’s great for injecting pace, urgency, and action.
I’m currently listening to an audiobook, Thinking Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman, which is brilliant and very thought provoking. It’s about our brains, so I guess it should be thought provoking. One point Kahneman makes is that research shows that mild exercise allows our brains to work well and easily, but once we start to really exert ourselves, the quality of our thinking and decision making deteriorates. Interesting, given the rapid decision making that sports people have to do. However, it is true that getting up out of our chairs at work is beneficial.
Does anyone else find that they have to move in order to be able to think?
As an aside, here is a video Daniel Kahneman talking about memories – nothing to do with my points above, but it gives you an idea of how fascinating this guy is. For L&D people, there’s a lot to be learned from him. Same for marketeers.