Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Do you ever find yourself in a situation where you are pressed for time?

Do you feel unsure of what to say when you are short on time and in the midst of a meeting?

You may be having a meal with a friend or coworker, and find yourself in a time crunch.

This is a situation that happens often, but yet it can feel a bit awkward to get out of this without coming across badly.

We’re going to talk about what you can say or do in these situations so that you come out of it without any hard feelings.

We are all busy and have time constraints to work through, so knowing how to deal with these situations can be helpful.

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Working Through A Common Issue

People are BUSY–that’s an understatement and yet something that we need to really understand.

You may feel busier in your own life than ever, and this is a common trend with so many of us.

This may force you to take a look at how you spend your free time whenever that occurs.

Do you go on lunch meetings or have networking lunches ever?

Do you ever just go to lunch with a friend during the work day?

Do you even take a lunch at all?

What happens if you do go on a lunch and you need to put a time limit on this?

It may be for breakfast, lunch, or dinner–the idea is that sometimes you have these meetings and you are limited on your time.

You very likely want to be at this meal or meeting, but your time is so limited and this can make for a tough situation.

It can be awkward if you need to get away to get back to work, pick up kids, just go home, or whatever it is!

Sometimes it’s also hard to tear yourself away if you are having a good time. 

Time constraints, busy schedules, multi tasking, and so many other factors make these situations a challenge sometimes.

So you want to think through how to keep these meetings shorter when necessary, but do so in the best way possible.

Coming Up With A Strategy To Help

You want to come up with some sort of strategy for when you find yourself in these situations.

You likely want to have this meeting, but you also may be pressed for time.

This is a common situation, and if you try out one of these strategies then it can make for a far less awkward situation.

  1. Be clear before the meal: State your intentions or your time constraint up front so that there is no confusion. This is a great way to stay ahead of it and ensure that you don’t have a problem when you are there.

“Just to let you know,I have X (time) , so I’ll have to head back at X.”

“I have a X right after this, so as long as we get the check by X,  I’m good.”

  1. Towards the end of the meal: This means that you wait until towards the end, but it can be okay in certain situations. So long as this won’t stress you out waiting until the end of the meal, this may work to your advantage. You can casually check the time, but don’t be obvious or do it too much, or seem like you are in a rush.

“I should start heading back in a bit.”

“Oh wow, this is so great- I can’t believe it’s already X!”

  1. If they aren’t getting the hint: This can be the most awkward situation of all, but there is a way to get through it. You have to choose your words and your tone carefully. However if you use one of these strategies then you can get through this with ease.

“I’m so sorry, I gotta get going. I wish we had more time!”

“Oh man, it’s already X. Time to get back to X.”

If you haven’t gotten the check, get it as that’s a good clue.

If you already got the check, then start gathering your things together as if you are getting ready to leave.

Body language is often what people focus in on when nothing else works.

Of course, always be courteous and polite, because attitude is everything particularly in these types of situations.

Try to end with an apology, say you had fun, and mention that you want to do it again.

You don’t have to use all of these, and as a matter of fact sometimes less is more.

Sometimes you don’t know things will run long, so you won’t think to use number 1 and put it out there in advance.

If however you are dealing with a friend or maybe someone you know has a hard time respecting time, it’s good to give them a heads up.

Each of these can work for different situations, but you just have to know how to work this and then use the right attitude and phrases to convey this.

Roleplays To Help

We’re going to give you some roleplays to help you when you find yourself in this type of situation.

It can work in a variety of different ways, so these should hopefully help you through the various situations.

This roleplay is focused on colleagues getting ready for a lunch.

Lindsay: “I’m excited to try that new restaurant.”

Michelle: “Me too! Ah, just to let you know, I have about 45 minutes, so I’ll have to head back at 12:45.”

Lindsay: “Sounds good!”

Michelle: “Ready to go?”

Lindsay: “Yeah. Oh, and I have a meeting right after this, so as long as we get the check by 12:50, I’m good.” 

Michelle: “Gotcha!”

You can even make a joke about meetings or talk about it in a lighter way.

This roleplay is about friends having lunch, thus combining numbers 2 and 3 from above.

Lindsay: “So anyway, I guess I’ll start sharing the story with you about Bill.”

Michelle: “Yes, I’m excited to hear it! I should start heading back in a bit, though. I’m sorry I have to cut this short!”*

Michelle: “So that’s how I feel about the situation, but there’s a lot more that I have to say really.”

Lindsay: “Oh, I know. Oh wow this is so great–I can’t believe it’s already 1!”

Michelle: Oh yeah, time flies. But yeah, I’m just so excited about this trip, but I don’t know how my friends will all get along. It’s a bit stressful.”

Lindsay: “Oh for sure.”

Michelle: “Yeah. It’s a lot. Do you travel with friends?”

Lindsay: “Sometimes. Oh man. It’s already 2. Time to get back to the office. I’m so sorry! Let’s do it another time?”

Michelle: “Yes, I’d love that!”

This roleplay is about a boss and a worker at lunch together.

Lindsay: “So it’s nice to have this lunch. I’m glad we’re meeting. You’ve been doing such great work.”

Michelle: “Thanks so much! It’s great to get to know you more.”

Lindsay: “Likewise. I should start heading back in a bit.”

10 minutes pass…..

Michelle: “And that’s why I decided to get another parrot.”

Lindsay: “How interesting. I’m so sorry. I gotta get going. I wish we had more time. We’ll do it again.”

Michelle: “Thank you!”


Be aware of time if you are at a meal, especially a business lunch or regular lunch in the middle of the day.

If you have to cut it short, we gave you some strategies where you can be respectful and still keep the connection.

Be mindful of other peoples time just as you would hope others are mindful of yours.

Know that the right approach and the right things to say can make a huge difference in dealing with an otherwise awkward situation.

Try these out, and see how well they can work for you when you are faced with this.

If you have any questions, please leave them below in the comments section.

We’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

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