Whether you work at home or in an office, there’s one corporate trend I’d love to bring to a full stop – the maximization of time allocation – aka the meeting that fills every last minute of the blocked time. The problem is that this leaves ZERO time to transition to your next task, call, or meeting.
Transition time used to be a given back in the day when we were primarily physically gathered. Executives would excuse themselves to get to the next meeting, and peers would close laptops or notebooks in anticipation of the end of the gathering.
Then COVID…and our video call meetings expanded to fill the full allocated time as we no longer needed to run from meeting room to meeting room.
While the need to physically transition space went away, the need for transition did not.
Did you ever find yourself messaging someone asking to start the next meeting on your schedule a few minutes late? Of course! We need bio breaks, water refills, time to collect our thoughts and move our bodies.
I thought I could quietly shift the culture by creating 25-minute blocks on calendars instead of 30, or planning agendas that only contained 55 minutes worth of content. My silent effort to take back 5 minutes went largely unnoticed and made an ugly mess of my Outlook calendar that so desperately wanted everything to fit neatly within 30-minute increments.
I continued to drive meetings I led or have influence in to end before their scheduled time. It works about 90% of the time. It got me thinking, how could I get more meetings to end the discussion and allow five minutes of transition time?
Then I heard it the other day from a senior leader. “We need to wrap by 10:55” and lo and behold, the meeting began to wrap up at 10:50 and we were out of his office by 10:55. A very clear expectation was set, and executed upon allowing everyone a few minutes before their 11am commitment began.
While we have all informed meeting leaders of our need to leave early for various reasons, it doesn’t always end the meeting. If fact, the meeting will often continue, but without your voice in the room.
The key to unlocking transition time is for the meeting leader to declare the meeting end time at the beginning of the meeting and not some vague, “I think we’ll get through this quickly and give you some time back” 🤮
Let’s do it, together! I’m going to declare the end time in situations where I can control it. Getting 5 minutes won’t change my life, but it will give everyone gathered the transition time we all need so we can better engage in whatever comes next.