A ghost who is leaving a meeting with angry participants shouting at it.

The Meeting Ghost Backup Plan

I had a family member text me recently. “Dave, here is a topic for your newsletter. I work for and with organizations that cancel and reschedule meetings at the last minute. This messes with my schedule to the point to where I no longer consider them planned.”

The message was timely. The day before I had not one, but two meetings scheduled with other retirement coaches. Both wanted to know more about my processes and possible collaborations.  Twenty minutes before the first one, boom! The cancellation comes through. They did email me and apologize, saying their schedule was too busy. But there was no request to schedule something in the future. Later, as I was opening Zoom for the second appointment. Two minutes before it started, the meeting was cancelled. No follow-up, no email, totally ghosted.

Ghosting is a modern term that refers to an abrupt ending on a communication or meeting without warning or explanation. While I consider it annoying and rude, it is a part of business and a part of life.

I could spend the rest of the article lecturing people on the time and economic impact of ghosting others. Let’s turn that around and talk about ways you can prepare and anticipate for the eventual (and it will happen) time what you are left hanging or rescheduled at the last minute. We will use the concept outlined in my book The Time-Optimized Life, known as PEC or preparation, execution, and control.

Let’s first bring in the context of PEC. It ties back to my definition of time optimization.

“Time-optimized time management is a continuous pursuit of the right preparation, along with the right execution, to escalate broad control over personal productivity.”

A triangle explaining the principle of PEC, preparation, execution, and control

Again, from my book.

“Preparation establishes the provision, design, forethought, and groundwork of time tied to a future project, task, event, or undertaking.”

“After the plan is generated, time management then shifts to execution. It is as much procedure as it is technique.”

“An often-overlooked aspect, but just as important an element of time management, is control. Your control.”

Let’s tie this into getting ghosted.

Ghosting Preparation

Think of alternatives. What will you do to fill the found “free” time if that meeting or event does not happen?

  • Have a contingency plan: Outline substitute tasks or projects you can work on if a meeting gets canceled unexpectedly.
  • Keep a flexible schedule: Avoid packing your day too tightly, leaving some buffer time to accommodate schedule changes.
  • Evaluate the meeting agenda critically – if it lacks a clear purpose or attendees are unprepared, consider canceling proactively.
  • Track patterns of last-minute cancellations to identify any underlying issues that need to be addressed.

On my two meetings that did not happen, I was ready to work on content for my newsletter and social media posts. It was lower level but still productive time.

Ghosting Execution

Implement one or more of these alternatives. Be mindful of your emotions and attitude.

  • Remain professional and offer alternatives like rescheduling or sharing meeting materials when someone cancels.
  • Be Kind:  Remember, things come up. Respond to the cancellation with understanding and maintain a positive attitude.
  • Learn from Cancellations: If cancellations are frequent, consider having shorter, more focused meetings in the future.

While frustrated about not having the meetings, I whined a little with my wife and then quickly moved onto my secondary items and got a lot done.

Ghosting Control

Be committed to accomplishing something productive in the “provided time.”

  • Clear Your Headspace: Take a break!  Go for a walk, meditate, or do some light stretches to de-stress and refresh your mind.
  • Upskill Yourself:  Use the time for professional development. Take an online course, read industry publications, or brainstorm new ideas.
  • Plan for the future: Take the opportunity to live in a strategic or forwarding thing space to look over the horizon.

When the allotted time was up, I was able to feel like good things got done, even though I was ghosted.

PEC the Ghost

Always try and create a “plan B’ or different activities that will fill your time productively. Prepare for alternatives that are not time critical but are productive. It’s fine to be frustrated and angry, just don’t let it consume the now “open” time – execute your alternatives. Maintain a level of control by holding yourself accountable to making the free time valuable.

David Buck is the author of the book The Time-Optimized Life, owner of Kairos Management Solutions, LLC, and founder of the Infinity Lifestyle Design program. As a Certified Professional Retirement Coach (CPRC), David works with financial services providers helping their clients create a post-career lifestyle strategy. David also helps individuals teams and businesses learn how to use their time more proactively. To learn more, contact him at dave@kmstime.com or visit Infinity Lifestyle Design.

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