There are 2 types of meetings: recurring meetings and ad hoc meetings. 

And they can both wreak havoc on your schedule.

I’ve shared with you in the past about how to approach a meeting audit to ensure that the right recurring meetings are on the calendar (and that they feel like a good use of your time.)

So today, let’s talk about ad hoc meetings. 

You know, the meetings that just seem to pop up on your calendar steal any “free” time you’ve got available, and turn your “Swiss cheese calendar” into a “brick wall calendar”.

These often are the meetings that cause you to sigh (loudly if you’re working from home) or seethe (quietly if you’re in the office), as soon as you see them show up on your calendar.

The meetings where you think: “Really?  We needed to talk about this now?” 

Or worse: “This entire meeting could have been a 1 paragraph email.”

So, what can we do about these meetings? 

Well, while we can do our best to ensure that we’re only scheduling meetings that are absolutely necessary, and that really do require a real-time conversation, where to actually put those meetings can still be an issue.

Enter “Office Hours”

Yes, office hours.  Just like your professors used to have.

You know what I’m talking about, right?

Your professors had a few hours a week blocked off, where they’d be at their desk, ready and willing to answer all your questions.

If you stopped by your professor’s office outside of office hours, you might be turned away; they were doing something else, building out the next lecture, writing a book, etc.

But if you have lots of ad hoc demands on your time, you can employ the concept of office hours too, and with the technology we have today, it’s never been easier!

How can you adopt this “office hours” strategy?

Here are a few methods that are easy to set up:

  • If you’re working in an old school office, along with all your coworkers, well, you could go low-tech, just like your professors, and post your office hours on your office door, on your desk (if you don’t have an office), and even in your email signature.
  • But, in the likely case that you’re remote, hybrid, or some of your team is, you can use your calendar.
    • If you’re using Google Calendar, you can use their appointment slots feature and let people book 15-minute slots on your calendar in a window that you designate.
    • If you’re using Calendly, or another scheduling tool, you can protect a couple of hours a week for “office hours” and also let people book specific slots.

When you use these features, you contain the “office hours” to pre-ordained times that work for you.

Will you ever need to make an exception? 

Yeah, probably.

Is that a reason not to try? 


My take?

If there’s a method you can use that makes your calendar even slightly better, do it. 

Even if it doesn’t work all the time.

Are there other considerations here?  

Yes, of course.  

If you work in a place with a hierarchical management structure, you probably don’t want to force your manager or any of the higher-ups to use your office hours. 

But your direct reports and your peers?  Go for it!

And if you’re thinking: “This would never fly at my workplace!”,  well, you know the culture of your workplace best. 

And you should do (or not do) what works for you.

However, people are often more open to experimentation than you might imagine. 

So what about putting it out there as an experiment? 

It might just work!

(Side note: If you work at a company that has WAY too many meetings, and the only time you and your coworkers can get work done is on evenings and weekends, I can help!  One of my most popular workshops is “Making Meetings Better”; tell your manager, your HR team, or your L&D department about it.  Here’s a draft email you can send to make it very easy!)

So, tell me, have you tried this Office Hours strategy?

If not, are you open to experimenting?

Tell me in the comments!


  • Alexis Haselberger

    Time Management and Productivity Coach

    Alexis Haselberger Coaching and Consulting, Inc

    Alexis Haselberger is a time management and productivity coach who helps people do more and stress less through coaching, workshops and online courses.  Her pragmatic, irreverent, approach helps people easily integrate realistic strategies into their lives so that they can do more of what they want and less of what they don't.  Alexis has taught thousands of individuals to take control of their time and her clients include Google, Lyft, Workday, Capital One, Upwork and more.