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I work in the US in a office/research environment, and typically eat lunch at 11:30. My schedule is usually pretty open, but I've noticed that lately people are scheduling many, if not most, of their meetings with me during that time. On occasion I meet with people who have completely full schedules and lunch is the only time they can squeeze in, and in those cases it makes sense and I'm happy to oblige.

However, I think a lot of the time that time choice is just a casual/arbitrary decision on the part of the meeting maker. Lunchtimes in the office vary (12:00 and 12:30 are also common), so it may not seem like "lunch time" to others. I have my own reasons for wanting to eat on a consistent schedule when possible, and have been thinking about creating a recurring daily outlook appointment with the name "lunch" as a soft deterrent for people who might think that 11:30 is as good a time as any.

However, I'm a little worried about how it will come off. I've seen it done in other workplaces but it's not common at my current job. I don't want to seem uppity or passive-aggressive, and I also don't want to make up anything or lie about why I want to block off that time for most meetings.

Is it generally acceptable to make "lunch" calendar appointments? If so is there a better name for that type of appointment?

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    Can you add an appointment to your calendar but show it as "tentative"? – Kat Jan 23 '17 at 18:56
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    How, when people are setting up meetings while viewing your calendar to see the time you have available, are they supposed to know that you take that time period for lunch if you don't block it out in your calendar? – Makyen Jan 23 '17 at 22:53
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    An inconsequential anecdote: In a previous job, a higher up manager came to our office looking for one of my colleagues. Upon learning that the colleague was on a lunch break, he phoned him up and told him to break off his lunch and come back to the office immediately. The justification for calling him back? He apparently failed to mark his absence in his calendar. So according to this logic, it is not just acceptable, but mandatory to mark lunch times in Outlook. – user43838 Jan 24 '17 at 8:42
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    @Davor 11:30am isn't strange, I've worked at several places where 11:30 is the regular time for lunch. In some instances, the lunch times are staggered between departments to avoid congestion, either in the parking lot, the cafeteria or both. – DLS3141 Jan 24 '17 at 13:32
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    @Davor Your experiences must be limited to a particular culture. I will attest to the fact that at least in some cultures, lunch at 11:30 is not at all unusual. Even for developers. In fact, it's when I typically at lunch (largely because I eat dinner with my family early in the evening). Regardless, whether you find it strange or not is not really relevant to this question, nor is discussing it really appropriate for comments. – Beofett Jan 24 '17 at 20:22
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...so it may not seem like "lunch time" to others.

Bingo, in all honesty, If I saw a slot for 11:30 - 12 :00 I would book a meeting in there. So that's probably why this is happening. I would say if people really need to get a hold of you they will message or talk to you in person to ask if you can meet earlier otherwise they will find alternatives.

I would say there's nothing wrong with putting a block of time in your calendar as lunch.

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    I have always done this and for the most part, and people have respected it even when I have been at the "bottom of the food chain" as you put it. I have had people ask me to meet during that time and I have been able to move my lunch to accomodate, or we have made it a lunch meeting. – DLS3141 Jan 23 '17 at 17:24
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    In some calendars there is an option to put in an appointment but not mark yourself as "busy/occupied" but "free/tentative". I use this to put in appointments or plans I am willing to change for an important meeting that can't be any other time but nor for "can we talk for five minutes some time this week". Also, some appointments are just reminders for myself (to take a medicine I am not used to or something like that) and marked only with single letters or other symbolic stuff so people might not know what they would interrupt (and sometimes feel less bad about it). – skymningen Jan 24 '17 at 10:07
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    @DLS3141 being at the bottom of the food chain at a lunch meeting does not sound pleasant. – simbabque Jan 24 '17 at 12:35
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    @simbabque I agree, but that was the terminology that the OP used in a comment on the original question. So I went with it. – DLS3141 Jan 24 '17 at 13:30
  • This probably depends on the work environment. If everyone else takes lunch at noon and you take it at 11:30, this means that there is now a 90 minute window where nothing occurs instead of a 60 minute window. Or if 12:30 is acceptable, nearly two hours. – mkingsbu Jan 25 '17 at 15:00
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I think it's perfectly acceptable to create a recurring appointment in your calendar for lunchtime, especially as 11:30 would be considered a little early by a lot of people (no numbers for that, just a feeling). If anyone asks, then you can simply respond with something similar to what you have in the question and say you have your own reasons for wanting to eat early and on a schedule. It's phrased nicely to imply that there are reasons, but they're private, so you're not inviting any further questions on it.

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    If you use Outlook, you can flag an appointment a "private" so that others only see that you're busy, not why. IME, people tend to not ask about appointments flagged this way, but may ask "hey, can your 11:30 get moved, it's the only time the other 10 people I need for this meeting are free" – alroc Jan 23 '17 at 15:22
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    @alroc, or include it as "tentative." – Wildcard Jan 24 '17 at 7:15
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I have nearly the same issue, and my answer is to create a recurring appointment, but mark the time as Tentative. That seems to work fairly well: people will mostly not use my lunch as meeting time, but will occasionally ask me if it's okay to schedule a meeting there, or in the case of larger meetings, just schedule over and apologize - but only occasionally. That way I don't feel bad for scheduling the block and it has a minimal disruption on things (as opposed to blocking it as Busy).

15

Using calendar entries to block out time on a regular basis is not uncommon in my experience. (In fact, just today someone sent out a department-wide "meeting-free Wednesday (morning)" invitation to help everybody get some heads-down time.) I've seen people block out lunch times on their calendars, and I personally sometimes block out Monday mornings (especially after a vacation or trip) and Friday afternoons, the former to give me time to catch up and the latter to help me get out of there a little early when needed.

You can mitigate your concerns about how it looks by using the name and/or description to convey further information. "Lunch" is a stronger deterrent than "preferred lunch time", and if the meeting description is visible to others, using that space to say something like "can schedule against this if necessary" will help.

As another answer suggested, marking your lunch appointment as tentative rather than confirmed also sends a signal that you can adjust this if you need to. The message you want to send is "if you don't really care when we meet then please avoid this time, but if this is the only way to do it, I can be available".

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    "Preferred lunch time" is brilliant -particularly combined with tentative. – Martin Bonner Jan 24 '17 at 7:54
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Yes, it's acceptable to "reserve" your lunch slot with a recurring appointment.

I see this a fair amount in my colleagues calendars, and it doesn't cause any problems at all.

It's a good thing to do if you regularly have lunch at the same time.

  • @CJM I think that the question is about whether or not it would be acceptable to leave a blocked-out "lunch" appointment in his own calendar to avoid people attempting to book the time. – Samthere Jan 23 '17 at 16:37
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It has been common practice in the offices I've worked at, and even working with a widely international team (I was based in Mountain Time and they were mostly Eastern Time) to block out a period or chunk of time for you to take breaks or eat lunch.

Doing this can be considered professional because it clearly communicates to any meeting planners that you are definitely not available at this time, and if they have a need for you to be available at that time, they must discuss it with you beforehand.

I will say that, depending on the nature of the meeting, they may ask you to be double-booked or ask you to move your lunch, but this communication wouldn't happen if you didn't block off a time explicitly for lunch.

  • I've worked in a factory where lunch times were fixed for people within a certain division, so it was almost compulsoory to block out your lunch if you worked across the company – Chris H Jan 24 '17 at 10:35

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