Default Settings

So awhile back, when quarantine started, I noticed right away how much time I was spending waiting for this Zoom meeting or that Google Meet (whatever it’s called now) or the next Teams meeting to start. Sitting there waiting stressed me out and the time I spent waiting seemed to be adding up fast. The root cause seemed to be default settings in most email/calendar clients/apps, which are set to auto-populate events with times starting precisely at the top of the hour and/or exactly half past the hour.

Those default settings arguably present some important challenges against that don’t work well with Nature. First, there’s no meeting I’ve ever been to (slight exaggeration) that’s ever started on time. To me, the default cadence of that setting isn’t aligned with what happens in the wild.

So I thought of something small to try to reclaim some of that time and also lower my stress level. I changed my default settings to 5-minutes after the default settings. That means that meeting invites I send start at 10:05a or 2:35p but always with a 5-minute buffer built-in before the event begins.

I only tracked it for a few weeks in April of 2020 and again in March of 2021 but I learned I can reclaim almost 15-minutes-per-day for bio-breaks, ad-hoc prep, short-notice tasks, persistent messaging in Slack/Teams, etc.

15-minutes a day might not sound like a lot over a day, but over a week that’s >2 hours, and over a month it adds up to an entire work day.

I’d presumed incorrectly that no one would notice. The feedback I’ve gotten from others on receiving and participating in meeting invites for 11:05a or 3:35p is that’s a funny change and a welcome shift. People have said they’re less stressed at the start of our XX:05 and XX:35 meetings. Who knew?

I thought changing my default settings in such a small way would slightly and selfishly improve my own stress and efficiency, without adversely impacting others’ productivity or comfort. I didn’t think a subtle change like that would also extend some grace to others and help lower their anxiety, too. More than one of my peers have shared that it has helped them relax, be more laid back, more “themselves.”

That’s important to me and an unexpected compliment! It’s unreasonable to expect anyone’s best when they’re too stressed out. It’s reasonable to extend each other a little extra grace this year or any year.

What if any default settings have you changed recently?