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My thoughts, 22 lunches later

I went to lunch with someone every weekday in November. No lunch was eaten at my desk, no exceptions.

I met with all sorts of people. Old friends, clients, people I have placed. To fill the diary, meetings usually held over coffee became a November lunch (new job briefs, interviews, post placement reviews).

It was an interesting experience and something I learned from. Breaking bread feels so much better than drinking coffee. I enjoyed deeper responses to my questions and heard stories I would have otherwise missed.

HOW DID THE LUNCHES GO?

The best lunches weren’t at fancy restaurants, they were on the grass in a park. Grabbing a sandwich the size of your head from Via Abercrombie, finding a spot to sit in Circular Quay and soaking up the sun is seriously underrated.

Some people reached out to me because they were looking for work, while others met me out of curiosity. They saw the avatar and wanted to put a face to the name.

Everyone turned out to be genuinely cool. Having said that, taking people I knew from twitter and seeing them face to face revealed a totally new side to them. Kind of like seeing the movie, then reading the book.

More and more, I’m starting to believe that the identities people curate for themselves online are often worlds apart from who they are in real life. This isn’t good or bad but it’s definitely interesting. I will be keeping this in mind as I assess candidates I am introduced to online.

THE TIME FACTOR

Lunching aside, November was a busy month. I underestimated how many late nights I’d be spending in the office to make up for time spent during the experiment.

Answer this: if going out to lunch takes 1 hour and eating at your desk takes 20 minutes, you’ll save 40 minutes by eating at your desk, right? Actually, I found you’d save more. As a frequent desk-eater, I never realised there was another advantage to eating alone – you can eat whenever you feel like it. That could be 12:12pm, 12:49pm or 1:24pm.

When you’re due to meet another person, it doesn’t matter if you’re in the zone, you still need to stop and get to your lunch on time.

This helped me realise the importance of planning your days properly. Meetings take much longer than the time spent face-to-face. For a 1 hour meeting, allow 2 hours. 30 minutes beforehand, 1 hour for the meeting and 30 minutes afterwards. Assess the validity of meetings using that metric. If something is not worth 2 hours of your time, skip it or make it happen over the phone. Also, stack as many meetings as you can at the beginning or the end of the day so you can maximise your uninterrupted flow.

Finally, appreciate the time other people take to see you and make sure it’s worthwhile. Bring an agenda and don’t feel like you *need* to fill an entire hour.

CONCLUSION

Sharing a meal does take more time, but it’s worth the extra effort.

Some recruiters run businesses more similar to call centers than consultancies. I’ll continue to choose who I work with carefully and spend more time making sure each interaction counts. In an age where Twitter affects our already short attention spans, it’s been great to slow down and appreciate the people in Sydney’s tech community.