I'm looking for a word of phrase that essentially means the interim between when something has begun and when it is productive. This would be "boot time" on a computer.

My specific example would be the time between the established start of a meeting -- 10 am for instance -- and the time when everyone is finally in the room, on the call, technology wrinkles (connectivity/audio/video) ironed out, etc...say 10:05 am.

  • I heard of LAG TIME, however, it is the time taken for data to come back from a server.
    – Misti
    Dec 9, 2014 at 19:03
  • 2
    I call it "morning". And "after lunch".
    – Hot Licks
    Dec 9, 2014 at 23:03
  • My answer to the title is learning curve but I'm at a complete loss for the body other than now we're cooking. (blue collar perspective)
    – Mazura
    Dec 10, 2014 at 1:12
  • Is the word prepare appropriate? "The meeting was scheduled for 10am, but it took some people 5 minutes to prepare."
    – Octopus
    Dec 10, 2014 at 1:19
  • if not called "academic quarter", at least it remind why "academic quarter" do exist.
    – sylvainulg
    Dec 10, 2014 at 16:38

12 Answers 12


"Ramping up" is a driving metaphor for getting up to speed, getting past the initial learning stages, with a task. It is good for a team or new employee. It isn't perfect for a meeting, but has some flavor that might be useful.

  • 6
    "Spin-up" works, too.
    – J.R.
    Dec 9, 2014 at 22:18
  • @J.R. I've only heard "spin up" applied to new machines, usually virtual ones.
    – Kevin
    Dec 11, 2014 at 4:16
  • @Kevin - Interesting. Not familiar with Composer? Get spun up by going through the free tutorial. Or: Sometimes when a new scrub tech comes in, it takes 5 minutes or so to get spun up. Those are the contexts I was thinking of; maybe it's not as well-known as I had thought.
    – J.R.
    Dec 11, 2014 at 9:44

I’d call this period at the start of a meeting settling time or settling-in time.

This time is characterized by people entering the room, finding seats, positioning/connecting devices, arranging papers, etc. I would describe this as “getting settled in”.

After this intermission, you might hear someone say “OK, everyone settled? Let’s begin.”

  • +1 for the justification, but feel that it doesn't satisfy the "productive" aspect of the question. I can be settled in and ready to go, but there still may be a lag in time before my contributions are productive. I feel like the OP is asking for a word to capture both of those phenomenons.
    – Sam Berry
    Dec 10, 2014 at 0:48
  • @SamB. You're certainly entitled to that interpretation of the question. Even so, however, I'd say there's a more noticeable jump in perceived productivity after settling in than there is between the start of the conversation and the first subjectively productive contribution. Jun 23, 2017 at 20:11

I come from a technology field so perhaps this is somewhat specific to that but I have heard the period of time from when something starts until it is somehow useful of functioning described as the:

spin up time

I probably would not use this term in a serious report but in casual conversation I would be surprised if people didn't know what you meant in any context.


I would use the phrase Warmup Time. When working as a writer, this is the period when I check email, set up my working websites, bring up my editor, start a few words, go to another website, come back, change the words, then finally settle into a fugue state. It's a set of mental rituals and patterns that get my brain in gear, allow me to start blocking out distractions, and place a mental wall between myself and the rest of the world. Once I get into that fugue state, I'll occasionally do fugue waking, where my brain is active but my body is going to the bathroom or getting some food, but that's only after I've established fugue in the first place.


lag (læɡ)

vb (intr) , lags, lagging or lagged

  1. (often foll by behind) to hang (back) or fall (behind) in movement, progress, development, etc


  • 1
    I like "lag", but I'd go a bit further and call it "coffee-lag": the time period after muster when everyone runs to grab their Starbucks before the meeting.
    – Oldbag
    Dec 9, 2014 at 21:48

The interim between when something has begun and when it is productive.

You could call that initialisation. Initialisation is a process, and therefore must take some amount of time, and it produces a thing which is ready, that is not ready until it has finished initialising.


In the context of bringing on a new employee: "startup time".

Related, an awful word, but I find myself using it: "onboarding".

  • I've mainly heard "onboarding" from HR people. For example, if they have a recommended process to bring new employees up to speed, the sometimes call it "onboarding process". Technical people tend to call it "ramp up" (as also proposed in the answer by @Mitch) much more frequently, in my experience. Dec 10, 2014 at 6:51

I believe that a professional would not admit to this as lag time or down time or other phrases that connote non-productivity. Rather they would say they spent 5 mins "in preparation" of the scheduled meeting. If you want a phrase, I would tell you "preparation time."


Idle Time

  1. (Commerce) commerce time during which a machine or a worker could be working but is not, as when one job has been completed and tooling or materials for the next are not complete or available. -TFD

You could be looking for the expression “dead time” or “downtime”.

a time during a regular working period when an employee is not actively productive.
Source: dictionary.com definition of “downtime”


You could call it the hold time.

If the meeting was scheduled to start at 10am, but didn't actually start until 10:05am, then the meeting was effectively on hold during those 5 minutes.

In addition, I have sometimes dialed into a conference call and had the phone system tell me that the meeting organizer "has not yet arrived". Then it may play some music as it puts me on hold, and I stay on hold until the meeting organizer finally dials in.


"Queuing time" seems appropriate.


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