Taking Back Your Time: Meeting Management for 2013


February 6, 2013

clockI had an interesting conversation with someone recently about the length of meetings.  As you know Outlook and many other electronic calendar options only allow you to schedule meetings in thirty minute increments.   I can’t tell you how often I’ve been in a meeting that is really done in 23 minutes or 49 minutes that the organizer feels the need to stretch the entire length of the time they booked on everyone’s’ calendars.

At my last job, I was so annoyed by this that I even suggested that we truly end a meeting when the agenda items have been met.  No one could really agree to break the pattern of being held to our calendar though.


So here I am, three years later still having conversations with people from time to time about this pet peeve of mine.  I bet that if you add up all the “extra” time you’d get back if meetings really ended when the objective had been met, you’d get a couple extra hours back each week.

I say we start a movement.  Take YOUR time back.  When a meeting is over, get up and walk out.  Let the rest of the group chatter on about things not on the agenda.  You’ll find me back to work getting more done.

How about you?


  • Goes way beyond “pet-peevedness” to me. Here are different things that I do.
    1. If you think a meeting should take 40 minutes or less, schedule it to start at 20 minutes after the hour. You can set specific times in Outlook, it just takes a little extra typing.
    2. Don’t schedule anything on 30 or 60 minute intervals. Who can instantaneously be at their next appointment or call? Build in some room to breathe!
    3. Require everyone to put a specific purpose, process, prep, and desired outcomes IN THEIR MEETING NOTICES. Subject Lines like “Discuss Customer Satisfaction Survey” or “Review New Office Layout” are not good enough.
    4. Decline a meeting notice when it is not clear why you are invited, what is the desired outcome, and what you should do to prepare for it.
    How’s that for a start?

    • @Tim- Love your ideas. I’ll start trying the one of scheduling 20 minutes after the hour. I also already do #4….if I don’t know why I”m invited, I push back and/or decline. Thanks for sharing!

  • Tim,

    I like your idea about starting meetings at 20 minutes after the hour. Also, I think I’ll start using more specific Meeting Subject Lines as I’ve been guilty of that in the past.

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About Trish

A former HR executive and HCM product leader with over 20 years of experience.


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