As I was saying goodbye to a client last week, she was talking about how she was planning to spend a rare day off. She had a few key goals queued up: continue working on the office organizing project we’d started, do something creative and have lunch with a friend. Then she frowned.
“I’m really happy to see her, and we always have a great time,” she said, ” but a lunch date seems to eat up my entire day. I have to leave the house mid-morning, and by the time I get home, it’s after 1:30 or 2. That’s a big bite out of my free time.”
She’s right. While sometimes lunch plans do prompt us to work more efficiently in the morning and later in the afternoon, more often than not, they’re a time-sucking black hole in the middle of the day.
So instead of meeting for lunch, why not meet for breakfast? Or dinner? Whether you get together first thing in the morning or after the workday, you’re protecting a big chunk of your precious time. And because breakfast is rarely a long, drawn-out meal, you can chat, eat, be social and be back at your desk/computer/project by 9:30 a.m.
Meeting for dinner might be the ideal reward for a long day of work. If you find yourself enjoying the evening and your company, you don’t have to fret about cutting the meal short to wrap up your day’s tasks.
If scheduling challenges force you to agree to a lunch date, be upfront about your time constraints. I have a friend who uses the term “hard stop” — as in, “Can we meet at 11:30 instead of noon? I have a hard stop at 12:30 because I need to meet with a client at 1 back in my office.” If you’re forthright about your schedule and you respect your time, others will too.
Do you “do lunch” these days? How do you prevent a lunch date from swallowing up your day?