The business meeting: champion of information exchange, killer of productivity, and rarely a great use of each and every attendee’s time.
Whether you love meetings or wish death upon them with the force of a thousand suns, the simple fact is that, for most organizations, they’re here to stay. So here are some great time killers you can try while you’re stuck in your current meeting or waiting for your next one.
1. The best there is, was, and ever will be
We’re probably at a point in civilization where not everyone recognizes Microsoft’s classic Solitaire as the ultimate in time mismanagement. But there was a breathtakingly wonderful era wherein it was the undisputed champion, and I implore you to resurrect such perfection if you haven’t already.
For those of you looking for the path of least resistance, you have Solitaire built into Windows 10 as well as extremely serviceable (and free) handheld versions for Android and for iOS. There’s also an old-timey, decent web-based version that feels very Windows 3.1-ish. And there’s the actual Windows 3.1 version if you’re really a purist, also playable in the browser.
However, Windows Vista and Windows 7 gave us the ideal blend of old and new when it came to Solitaire. If you miss those versions as much as I do, here’s your pathway to installing Solitaire, Hearts, and plenty of other classic inbuilt Windows games from yesteryear.
2. Cram for your inevitable Jeopardy! appearance
A head full of interesting facts can sometimes be misidentified by the bumps-on-a-log in your life as “useless” but we all know the rush of being able to rattle off answers to obscure questions faster than Google can return results. In order to keep your skills sharp, turn to the very excellent, very random, and very aptly named Random Trivia Generator. This is a website with a simple but important purpose: house thousands of trivia tidbits, and show them six at a time, flash-card-style, to visitors.
You can drill into specific categories if you like—history, science, entertainment, geography, and others—or just enjoy stuffing your brain with a nearly endless stream of ammo for your next Trivial Pursuit session.
3. Party like it’s 1989
When the Internet Archive released its MS-DOS games archive, nostalgia reached a fever pitch thanks to breathless headlines about every game you ever loved as a kid suddenly being available online, for free.
The reality is twofold. One: for every great DOS game, there are a hundred terrible ones; and two: most are just not built for short, in-office, joystick-less, mid-meeting playing sessions. Fortunately, there’s a smattering of fun, mouse-friendly, meeting-friendly games.
Some personal favorites:
- The Oregon Trail
- Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego
- Monopoly Deluxe
- Maniac Mansion
- The Incredible Machine
- PGA Tour Golf
- Sim City
- Castle of Dr. Brain
That should be enough for a few day’s worth of meetings, at the very least.
4. Doodle while you dawdle
Of all the mindless activities meant to stave off boredom, the lowly doodle has to be in the conversation as one of the all-time greats. And while there are a million doodling apps—some better than others, some more expensive than others—Adobe’s free Photoshop Sketch app (Android, Apple) is worth a mention for being accessible enough to just pick up and use, while at the same time feature-filled enough to create some true masterpieces. Your art can be slung relatively seamlessly to big-boy Adobe apps like Illustrator and Photoshop as well, and the iOS version sports a cool time-lapse feature that shows your creations coming together stroke by stroke.
5. Wild, wild webcams
You know who never has to worry about meetings? Animals. And thanks to modern technology, you can see all sorts of animals in all sorts of non-meeting situations. Bears in Alaska? Check. Rescued kittens? Check. Playful puppies? Check. Thanks to Explore.org’s collection of animal-cams (Android, Apple, Web), there’s something for just about everyone, with animals spanning land, sea, sky worldwide.