The art of being on time to remote meetings

I hate being late. It says “I don’t care enough about your time,” so I try very hard to be on time or even better: early.

When I worked in an office, I was usually early to meetings. My tactic? I got there early and just did something useful in the mean time. It didn’t matter if it was a meeting room in an office or a coffee shop; it’s easy enough to get out your laptop and do something useful, or catch up on email on your phone. This doesn’t work when working remotely.

Being on time for meetings while working remotely is proving to be one of my challenges, as I can’t go sit at the meeting place and be ready to go.  Information overload is a real thing, so I’ve spent some time tweaking my workflow to find methods that keep me on track without being overwhelming. Here’s what I’ve got so far.

Get to the virtual meeting room early

Whenever possible, I try to join Zoom calls early. This is especially good when you know the meeting location in advance so can go ahead and join. I just turn on my webcam and mute the sound.  I’ll often share my Zoom link first, so that I can just leave the meeting open and the other person/people can join at their convenience.

It’s not always possible, like when you’re having a one on one voice call or chat – in that case, the following tips come in handy.

Set two reminders

For the longest time, I only had the default ten minute notification – I’d manage to get distracted between then and the meeting, as I’d invariably be trying to wrap something else up at the same time. I’d check the time and think, “five minutes to go, plenty of time!” and then I’d look again and realize that I was suddenly late.

I now have two reminders for appointments. The ten minutes in advance warning lets me know that I have something coming up and gives me time to go get a fresh coffee, etc., while the one minute lets me know that I need to be getting into the meeting now.

Having multiple alarms has improved my punctuality and lowered my stress levels because I know I’ll get a last minute notification. It works – except for when I miss the notifications.

Use alerts instead of banners for notifications

I played around with banners and alerts within the Mac OS notification settings. Wherever possible, I usually go for no alerts to combat information overload, but I need alerts for upcoming meetings. I initially went with banners because they disappear, but it turns out that actually clicking “close” on the alert button is more of a mental prompt for me.

Actually go somewhere

Sometimes, I just need the mental shift of changing locations. I don’t necessarily mean working from a coffee shop for part of the day, but going somewhere specifically for that meeting. It helps to avoid the “I can empty the dishwasher before this meeting starts!” and then realize that, once again, you’re late.

Personally, I don’t like doing any kind of voice call in a cafe or coffee shop, but a terrace or other outdoor location is fine. A lot of my meetings are text-based, so it’s not something I need to be too concerned with.

I find that this tactic works best for meetings where I need my full attention and won’t be multi-tasking.  It reminds me that I’m there for a specific purpose.

It’s an ongoing process, but this is what works for me. How about you – do you have any good tips for being on time when working remotely?


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