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Work meetings running long? This tool keeps them on time

(TECH NEWS) The online Zoom work meetings are causing a lot of mental drain and burnout this year, but Next Topic aims to eliminate that with firm timers to keep meetings from running over.

Online work meetings held via Zoom.

If your work meetings are anything like mine, they pretty much always run longer than anticipated—and it’s usually due to the pacing of discourse more than anything else. Should you find yourself in such a position, Next Topic might be the tool for you.

Next Topic is a super lightweight app designed for the sole purpose of keeping your meetings on track. Its function is simple: You type in a meeting name, customize the time limit for the meeting, and add topics with their own limits. Once that’s done, all you have to do is click the “Nail the meeting” button at the bottom of the form; your meeting information will save, and you’ll be able to click the “Start” button to begin counting down your first topic.

The countdown itself is also incredibly lightweight, utilizing only a timer, a meter, and an indicator showing how much time for your current topic name is left. If you’re ready to move on to your next topic before time runs out for your present one, you can simply click the “Next” button to do so; likewise, a “Go back” button allows you to skip back to your topic if you clicked “Next” before the topic was actually closed in your meeting.

The Next Topic interface is also easy to share as a sidebar during your next Zoom call, so everyone can keep an eye on it for the duration of the meeting.

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One potentially annoying thing that Next Topic does as a timer is solidify your meeting parameters upfront. Once you click “Start”, you won’t be able to adjust your topic time limits at all. While it’s reasonable to assume that somebody somewhere doesn’t appreciate this feature, having unyielding limitations on the meeting topics is the crux of Next Topic’s entire existence. It may seem inconvenient, but I guarantee that a meeting running long is moreso.

Next Topic isn’t a revolutionary idea, but it certainly is one genius solution to the problem of chronically long work meetings. If you’re struggling to cut your calls down to a reasonable length, give Next Topic a shot—it may be the answer to your meeting fatigue.

Jack Lloyd has a BA in Creative Writing from Forest Grove's Pacific University; he spends his writing days using his degree to pursue semicolons, freelance writing and editing, oxford commas, and enough coffee to kill a bear. His infatuation with rain is matched only by his dry sense of humor.


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