I’ve been spending a lot more time recently in meetings. Mostly things I should actually be at. And in general if it’s something I think is reasonable I’ll try to be there. In an effort to help with this I actually keep my work calendar up to date. Given that I’m running Linux on my laptop and the corporate standard is Exchange this requires a little bit of effort on my part (the Thunderbird Provider for Microsoft Exchange and Android support for talking to Exchange are helpful with this).

Sometimes it seems like I shouldn’t bother. I spent this week at a conference, and marked my calendar to indicate I was out of the office. I think I had at least 3 meeting requests, all for things that would actually have been appropriate for me to go to. Last week I managed to be booked for 7 hours of meetings from 7am until noon. That included a 30 minute window where I was triple booked.

The thing is, I’m really not that busy in terms of meetings - you can usually find a spot when I’m free on any given day unless I’m actually not in the office. If you bother to check my calendar, that is.

Another problem I have is the times people like to book meetings at. Booking a technical meeting at 9am isn’t going to get me at my best. Equally doing so at 5pm is likely to have me clock watching to make sure I don’t miss my bus and/or train. Also I seem to work with far too many people who don’t eat lunch and book hour long meetings at midday or 1pm.

I understand sometimes that’s the only time you can get everyone into a room together, but at least bloody ask and explain the need rather than just sending out a meeting invite.

Finally, book meetings of a realistic length. There are some people who invite me to things and cause me to add another 30 minutes on the end, because I know it always overruns.

It’s not all bad. I have a VP who always runs a meeting to time, and never seems to call one for spurious reasons. I’ve also worked with a program manager who will organize the meeting so that if you’re only there for one point on the agenda that’ll get dealt with near the beginning so it doesn’t take up more of your time that it needs to. Funnily enough I’m much more likely to go to things both of these people arrange.

Disclaimer: In the unlikely event anyone I work with who invites me to meetings is reading this, I might be talking about you, but everything I mention has been done by more than one person, so I’m not thinking about anyone in particular for each point.