Services & Software

There's a way to make every work meeting 5 minutes shorter

Use the extra time to get more coffee or get ready for another meeting.

End virtual meetings a few minutes early to give people a chance to breathe. 
Sarah Tew/CNET

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, some workplaces have opted to work remotely to keep employees healthy and safe, and this pushed meetings into the virtual world. Now, some people find themselves in a marathon of meetings with no time in between to go to the restroom, grab a snack or get to their next meeting on time. Not to mention the Zoom fatigue and Zoom anxiety that plagues the modern office worker.

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But there's a way to set your Outlook or Google calendar to automatically make your meetings end a few minutes early so people don't feel rushed.

Here's how to set your Microsoft Outlook and Google Calendar meetings to end five minutes early.

Change default meeting time in Microsoft Outlook in a web browser

Here's how to shorten the default meeting time by five minutes in Microsoft Outlook by using a web browser:

1. Go to Outlook in any web browser and sign into your account by clicking the button in the top right corner.

2. Click the Gear icon in the top-right corner to open Settings.

3. Click View all Outlook settings.

4. Click Calendar on the left.

5. Click Events and invitations.

6. Click the box next to Shorten duration for all meetings. Three drop-down menus will appear. The first lets you choose to start meetings late or end meetings early. The next two drop-downs let you set how many minutes late or early for short meetings (less than an hour) and long meetings (an hour or more).

7. In the first drop-down menu, select End events early.

8. In the second drop-down menu, select 5 minutes.

9. Click Save.

Meeting invites less than 30 minutes will be shortened to 25 minutes, and people will thank you -- maybe not out loud, but they will in their heads. 

Change default meeting time in the Microsoft Outlook Windows app

If you have the Outlook app on a Windows computer, the steps to shorten the default meeting time by five minutes are a little different. Here's how:

1. Open the desktop app and log in.

2. Click File and select Options.

3. Click Calendar.

4. Click Calendar options.

5. Click the box next to Shorten duration for all meetings. A drop-down menu will appear next to this option, and this menu lets you choose to start meetings late or end meetings early. Two other menus will appear below. These drop-downs let you set how many minutes late or early for short meetings (less than an hour) and long meetings (an hour or more).

6. In the drop-down menu next to the Shorten duration for all meetings, select End early.

7. In the first menu below, select 5 minutes.

8. Click OK.

Your half-hour meetings are set to end five minutes early now so people can get up and stretch before they dive into another meeting.

Unfortunately, you can't set meetings to start late or end early in Outlook's app for Mac, iOS or Android, but whatever changes you make in Outlook on a web browser or in the Windows app will be reflected in the other apps.

Change default meeting time in Google Calendar

You can shorten the default meeting lengths in Google Calendar in a web browser also, but if you are sending out a meeting invite from a company email address, you need to be a company administrator. Otherwise, here's how to shorten the default meeting length:

1. Open Google in a web browser and sign into your account by clicking the button in the top right of the page.

2. Once signed in, click the Dot grid icon in the top right corner next to your profile icon and click Calendar.

3. Click the Gear icon in the top right corner and click Settings.

4. Click Event settings.

5. Click the box marked Speedy meetings. This will shorten all meetings that are 30 minutes long by five minutes, and it shortens meetings longer than 30 minutes by 10 minutes. Google will automatically save your settings.

You can't shorten meeting lengths from the Google Calendar mobile app, but any meetings you set up in Google Calendar from a browser will show the correct length of time in the mobile app. 

If you need a video chat app to hold your virtual meetings on, check out Zoom, Google Hangouts and Microsoft Teams. And here's a guide to make sure you look and sound your best in virtual meetings.

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