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?

  • 10
    Can you add an appointment to your calendar but show it as "tentative"?
    – Kat
    Commented Jan 23, 2017 at 18:56
  • 21
    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
    Commented Jan 23, 2017 at 22:53
  • 8
    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
    Commented Jan 24, 2017 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
    Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 13:32
  • 7
    @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
    Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 20:22

7 Answers 7


...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.

  • 15
    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
    Commented Jan 23, 2017 at 17:24
  • 3
    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
    Commented Jan 24, 2017 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
    Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 12:35
  • 2
    @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
    Commented Jan 24, 2017 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
    Commented Jan 25, 2017 at 15:00

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.

  • 57
    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
    Commented Jan 23, 2017 at 15:22
  • 5
    @alroc, or include it as "tentative."
    – Wildcard
    Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 7:15

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).


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".


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
    Commented Jan 23, 2017 at 16:37

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.

  • 1
    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
    Commented Jan 24, 2017 at 10:35

Based on prior answers I have a feeling that this is going to be unpopular, but let me first say that it depends on the type of environment that you work in. If you have limited interaction with others (a lab environment, for instance) and everyone generally takes an hour lunch each day (including managers), then yes, sure, who cares. But if you are a consultant or some other professional and want to be taken seriously, I would not do it. I have ten direct reports: One of them does this and, unsurprisingly, he is my worst employee. The only message this sends is that they need "me time" at a very specific time each day. It is not professional. I work in consulting with clients in almost every global time zone; they do not care when you want to eat. If eating is important to you, pack a lunch and eat at your desk when you have time. Some days I have lots of free time to go out and grab lunch. Some days I have to grab a quick snack out of the vending machine. Sometimes I don't eat lunch at all. My work takes priority over my stomach, and I expect the same from my employees. Maybe you have a call with London from 10am to 2pm....eat before and after. If you want to be viewed by others as an unprofessional and selfish employee, go ahead and block it off. But we don't all work for Parks and Rec; if you want to be taken seriously, leave your calendar open and find time to eat when you can.

  • “ I work in consulting with clients in almost every global time zone”. How does planning a lunch conflict wit this? The client cannot see your appointments. Even if planned, you can move it, when needed.
    – fatdoor
    Commented Aug 3, 2022 at 14:47
  • “Planning” a lunch and blocking off an hour every single day are not the same. Plan all the lunches you would like. But saying “I need an hour by myself every single day at the exact same time to consume food” just wreaks of clownishness. When I see that on someone’s calendar I immediately think “unprofessional clown”. Working professional adults don’t do this, I’m sorry. If you do this and get away with it, you probably aren’t very important. Also, why stop at lunch? Why not put bathroom and coffee breaks on your calendar too? Maybe block 10-10:30 every day to take a dump? Clownish.
    – Chris
    Commented Aug 4, 2022 at 15:24
  • Ok. We have a different opinion then. When I plan a meeting with a client from 10am to 2 pm like you describe, we plan a lunch break during the meeting. My clients prefer that, instead of a four hour meeting without any break.
    – fatdoor
    Commented Aug 6, 2022 at 10:39

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