There’s A Special Place In Hell For People Who Don’t End Their Meetings On Time

Notebook doodle

I’m not talking about needing an extra five minutes to tie up loose ends once in a while, that’s normal. I’m talking about people who have a blatant, habitual disregard for the fact that meetings are supposed to end at a certain time.

I’m on a new project team where this is a problem. The project manager routinely lets our weekly one-hour meetings run over by 20-30 minutes. What makes the situation even more blasphemous is that the meetings are right before lunch.

This might not sound like a big deal to you, but it is a big deal to me because I spent my summer trying to bulk up. Being that I’m a girl, “bulking up” really means that I worked my ass off for 3 months to gain about 1 pound of muscle. Any avid weightlifter can attest to the fact that when you’re trying to gain lean-mass you are hungry ALL THE TIME, and when you get hungry it’s not the “yeah, I guess I could eat” kind of hungry, it’s the “FUC*ING FEED ME NOW OR I WILL LOSE MY SH*T” kind of hungry. Because it feels like your body is eating itself from the inside out.

So I sit in these meetings and compulsively scribble in my notebook, because that’s the only way I can make myself sit still and act like an adult as the minutes continue to tick by.

(Side note:  My editor’s, or as I revealed last week, my sister’s only response to this entire post was “Why don’t you just eat a snack?”. Jesus Christ! That is not the point of the post! And her response to that was “Well, there’s really no excuse for being unprepared. Especially if this happens every week.” This might have been the least helpful, and most annoying edit ever. But it’s ok because I love my sister, and I don’t pay her to edit my posts so she can give me whatever kind of crappy feedback she wants.)

My personal issues aside, I think that letting meetings run over-schedule is really unprofessional. Here are 5 reasons why you should try to wrap it up in a timely manner:

  1. It shows that you have respect for other people’s time. Everyone is busy. Wasting people’s time in an unproductive, inefficient meeting is disrespectful. Get through your agenda and then let people go do their work.
  2. It shows that you’re organized and prepared. Meetings should have a specific purpose. If there’s nothing specific you need to accomplish in a meeting, then you probably don’t need to have a meeting. Clearly stating the objective of the meeting helps people stay on task.
  3. It shows that you understand what is important to the bottom line. Part of the reason our meetings run late every week is because we go off on tangents that are completely irrelevant to the objective of the meeting, and sometimes even irrelevant to the objective of the project. There’s a time and a place for these kinds of discussions, and it’s not when you have 10 other people sitting in a conference room. If you can, take it offline.
  4. It shows that you’re a competent leader. The responsibility of whoever is leading the meeting is to make sure that the meeting’s objective is accomplished within the scheduled timeframe. Making sure that people stay on track (and reigning them in when they don’t) shows that you have everyone’s best interests in mind. And if you’re staying on track and still running out of time, it means you should have scheduled a longer meeting. Remember that for next time.
  5. It will make people hate your meetings less. Every week I dread going to our group meeting because they’re boring and always run long. If you run an efficient, productive meeting, people will be less likely to hate going to your meetings… especially if they’re right before lunch.
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7 Comments on “There’s A Special Place In Hell For People Who Don’t End Their Meetings On Time”

  1. Sean says:

    1. Thank you for the sister-editor comments. I’d say the same thing if I were her and have the same “screw you” response if I were you.

    2. That guy or girl should lose the ability to refer to themselves as a “Project Manager” if they let meetings run over like that on a regular basis. And if they’re certified by PMI their PMP should immediately be revoked for giving the rest of us a bad name. Apparently they haven’t been introduced to the “parking lot” concept?

    • emilysteezy says:

      It’s a girl. She’s fairly senior and seems fairly competent, so it always surprises me that she lets things get so out of hand.

      Not familiar with the parking lot concept… please elaborate.

      • Sean says:

        If you’ve got one of the nerdy PMs who follow every bit of guidance to the “T” the parking lot is a easel board or sectioned off area on the white board and every time a tangent pops up they have the group decide whether it warrants further discussion. If it does, they decide the appropriate people to be involved in the discussion and write it on their easel board as a follow up item to schedule that meeting. If it doesn’t, they kill that line of conversation and steer the conversation back to the agenda topics.


        3. You should start taking napkins to those meetings. :)

  2. Ron says:

    I agree with this 100% I have actually had people get mad and chastise me for being rude because in the middle of meetings I will regularly interrupt everyone and say, “Can we focus?” after we get on a tangents that goes absolutely no where for more than a few minutes.

    Wasting time in meetings drives me nuts, especially if its in a meeting that I really dont have much involvement. I like to go by the saying of; the only person allowed to waste my time is me.

  3. Caitlin says:

    Ugh, that hunger, I know what you mean. I luckily don’t have to deal with many meetings that run over but I do have a schedule that gets yanked around on the reg, which in turn screws with my eating, which in turn makes me all hangry and cranky. I pack a cooler of snacks so I can deal with it without destroying everyone around me, but it really only makes it slightly difficult to have such an unpredictable work schedule.

    • emilysteezy says:

      1. Hangry is one of my favorite words.
      2. I should be better about the snacks. I really do try, but sometimes I end up in meetings or trapped in someone’s office for hours when I didn’t expect to be. The clear solution to the problem is to invest in a fanny pack, fill it with snacks, and wear it around the office at all times. I would be the coolest!

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