Add Some Breathing Room To Your Meeting Schedule With The Margin Method

Add Some Breathing Room to Your Meeting Schedule With the Margin Method

Back to back meetings can overwhelm your days and leave you with hardly any time to get anything else done. You can give yourself some much needed wiggle room with the meeting margin method. Photo by George Redgrave.

If you don't take a break between meetings, you don't have time to reflect on what your meetings accomplish or set things in motion. On the Study Hacks blog, Cal Newport recommends a simple strategy to keep back to back meetings from eating up your entire schedule so you can keep productive:

Assume you have to schedule a meeting that lasts X minutes. Instead of blocking off X minutes on your calendar, block off (1.5)*X minutes. For example, if you agree to attend a 30 minute meeting starting at 2:00 pm, try to block out 2:00 to 2:45 on your calendar. Similarly, if it was a 60 minute meeting, try to block out 2:00 to 3:30. And so on.

The key is to keep your meeting to its originally proposed length, and keep those extra minutes for yourself to use as needed. You're not extending the length of the meeting, just the time you blocked out for it. This gives you time to process what was discussed, catch up on things like emails and phone calls you may have missed during the meeting and get started on the real work to turn your meeting's ideas into actions. This extra time also lets you take a break if you need it to de-stress, grab another cup of coffee or have a snack.

Schedule Meeting Margins [Study Hacks]


Comments

    Yeah my boss is going to be happy when I take a considerable break after every meeting. In the hour and a half of meetings mentioned you're suggesting taking a 45 minute break? Come on!

    If I applied the margin method to all my work, and eight hour day would be five hours. Oh wait. Scratch that. Four, including a lunch break. Amazing work ethic right there.

      The article isn't talking about a tea/lunch break, but a break from meetings so you can focus on what needs to be done:

      "This gives you time to process what was discussed, catch up on things like emails and phone calls you may have missed during the meeting and get started on the real work to turn your meeting’s ideas into actions."

    Not exactly the point of the article. The extra time is to consolidate what you've learned in the meeting, make any notes, communicate findings or new tasks to others, etc. All things you'll need to do anyway - this just sets aside the time to do them straight after the meeting when it is freshest in your mind. It's not like you're putting your feet up and playing Candy Crush.

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