Nine Tips on How to Survive All Day Meetings

On Tuesday, I was in meetings from 8:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. They were good, productive meetings with smart, fun, effective co-workers.

all day meeting pic

But it was still hard.

Last week, I had two days of 11 hours (or more) of meetings, and a total of 33 hours of meetings scheduled on the week, amongst my highest ever.

Before my current role, I didn’t have this many meetings. So I must have learned some coping strategies along the way, right? I’ve been thinking about how I might help others who have to go through that same learning process.

Here are nine tips on how to survive all-day meetings:

1. Avoid them.

Some all-day meetings shouldn’t happen. You might be able to avoid 6-12 hours of your life disappearing. If you think it’ll be a waste of time, excuse yourself if possible. (I’m thankful that I like my InterVarsity colleagues, and they generally run good meetings.)

2. Figure out who is running it.

Notice I didn’t say “who is calling” the meeting. I mean who is running the meeting, making it happen. Then, you have some homework to do…

3. Find out if there will be coffee.

Even if you don’t drink coffee, your experience will be much better if coffee is provided, for your java-swilling coworkers.

4. Find out if the coffee will be good.

5. Find out if there will be healthy snacks.

You need to do something to keep your energy up. And if it’s healthy, you can nosh your way through the hours. I find crunchy stuff helps keep my brain firing.

NOTE: by asking these questions numbers 3, 4, and 5, you greatly increase the likelihood of there being good coffee and healthy snacks. See what I did there?

6. Eat strategic meals.

If you eat a large lunch and try to keep going in the afternoon, you’re going to have trouble. Tony Memmel (a one-armed singer/songwriter) sings, “Just order a salad and get on with the next big thing.” Wise words that I struggle to heed, since I am a glutton.

7. Fight for your right…to stand up.

Usually in such situations, at least with creative teams, it’s a given that you can get out of your chair as much as you want. This gives you a new perspective on the room and on the dynamics of the discussion. Stretching, too, helps me feel like a human.

8. Use your breaks.

Go for a walk. Blitz your email. Make a quick call. Have an important conversation with someone else who is on break.

9. Have a job that you love.

If you can swing this one, at the end of the day, everything will be worth it. Even all-day meetings.

What did I miss? How do you cope with all-day meetings? Leave a comment. 

  • Bob Trube

    Adam, great to discover your blog! Introvert strategy is to scope out the breaks and disappear with a good book, or take a nap!