Time Management Tip: How to Gracefully Play Timekeeper When Good Times Abound

posted in: Time Management 2
Photo of moving bus, New York, NY, photography by R. Isip
“Sorry to break up the meeting, but Bill’s got a bus he has to catch…”

Have you ever acted as timekeeper in a meeting? Have you ever had to end a function or event just as things start to get going? (I certainly have!)

Today’s post is written especially for timekeepers or anyone who has had the heavy responsibility of dutifully ending a meeting or event. Timekeeping is more than just keeping time, it’s about carefully navigating a sea of social customs.

Here are a few tips to help you gracefully play timekeeper when those good times abound:

Confirm time markers in advance.

Confirming three specific time markers with your colleagues, coworkers or others before beginning a function will ease communication and save you from a lot of headaches. Here’s what you need to know:

The first marker is a general announcement letting people know a meeting is coming to an end. This should be anywhere from 30 minutes or less from your time of departure.

The second marker is a prompt to get people to the door. This should take place about halfway or so from your time of departure. There’s a lot of social customs that take place after any meeting: exchanges of business cards, picking up of belongings (bags, briefcases, coats, etc.),  goodbyes, using the restroom, getting to the car, taxi or bus. If you think it will take people only 5 minutes to say their farewells etc., trust me, you’ll be rudely surprised. At the very least give 10 minutes to be safe.

The third marker is zero minutes, or when you must be completely finished with a function and people are heading for, or are already out the door.

Practice conversation timing.

It takes a fine ear to listen to and gauge where a conversation is going. Pay extra attention to the flow of conversations. Who is speaking? Are they starting a new subject, answering a question or voicing their opinion? Look for natural pauses such as the closing of a subject or question, when people agree on an item, and so forth. This way, you can gracefully step in and acknowledge a good time has been had by all…and get the message across that it’s time to start packing up.

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A body in motion will get others in motion.

Small and subtle movements can help alert people to a shift in time, direction or activity. Glance at your watch, quietly start to gather your belongings or ask the server for the check if you are at a lunch meeting.  When all else fails, be polite and considerate when fulfilling your timekeeping duty as in the following: “Excuse me, Stephen you asked for a time check. It’s now twenty to one. We should start to wrap up the meeting.”

How about you? What’s the hardest part of wrapping up a meeting that’s on a roll? What are your tips for gracefully ending a function or event?  Share your thoughts below.

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Rashelle Isip is a New York City-based professional organizer and productivity consultant who helps people get organized so they can stress less, have more fun, and be happier at home. Her work has been featured in Good Housekeeping, Fast Company, Cosmopolitan, The Washington Post, Business Insider, and The Atlantic. Get access to her free guide, 10 Simple Ways to Make Your To-Do Lists More Effective, by clicking here.

2 Responses

  1. Rosemary

    Wow! Such a great post! Getting people out in a timely and orderly fashion is so very seldom taken into account.

    • theorderexpert

      Thank you! I was inspired to write today’s post from my personal experience as a timekeeper. A good time can quickly turn into a grumpy time when a meeting or event schedule is not kept. Thanks for stopping by!