Some people have job roles where they’re in a lot of meetings. Typically managers of people have this issue. Back-to-back meetings, or worse still, meetings that over-run and put them behind all day.

I often find myself in a position where I need to create stuff. I need thinking time, planning time and writing time. Meetings are the enemy in this situation. Sure, they have their purpose, and a very useful one at that, when managed properly, but not if I need sustained ‘me time’ to get my work done.

My approach to meetings is under-promise, over-deliver. Ask someone for more time than you need – don’t go mad, it’s a balance between taking their time and taking liberties – and book that time in the calendar. Then, aim to finish the meeting early. 45 minutes is a good length of time to ask for a meeting. Even if you finish on time, in all probability they’ll have a precious quarter-hour before their next commitment.

There are few things better than a meeting finishing early and giving you some of your hour or day back. And you’re grateful to the person who organised or chaired the meeting for that. It shows you that the person values your time and doesn’t waste it.

Were you ever at a school that managed its timetable in 50-minute slots, and started each class at the top of the hour? Those little 10 minutes back every hour are great for getting fiddly stuff out of the way, running quick errands and getting your head right for the next meeting.

Aim to finish your meetings early. Control them so that they do. Tell the other people that you’re done and that you’re giving them back some of their day. They’ll respect you for it and will be more inclined to grant you their time again.

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