Friday, October 31, 2014

More Tips for Business People: Calendars

You will have a calendar. It is probably digital, and if you work with others you are probably sharing it with them. In corporate environments this is required, so assume that, but if not you should still share your calendar with everyone else.

Because then instead of calling or emailing or anything, you just go to your calendar, schedule the meeting, and see if everyone else is free at that time. Many corporate systems make this tedious, but it's an available feature.

That means your calendar has to be accurate. If you always leave at 4:30 to pick up the kids from school, and everyone knows that, they don't know that unless it's on the calendar. Put it there. Put everything there. Include travel time if you know you have that and your calendar isn't smart enough to include that.

(This is where modern digital is worse than old digital. In the 1990s I has corporate calendar systems that knew where places were, and automatically added travel time.)

If it's open on my calendar, you can have the time. First come, first served. Almost always.

My calendar is a promise. If I say I will attend a meeting, I will attend it at the same rate as when I promise to come to your birthday or pick you up from the airport. If I can't attend, there's a damned good reason and it's my fault.

I don't know why others have a problem with this. But they do. Scheduling of meetings often happens at the last minute. Most meeting requests I get are with less than 2 days notice. Many are for the same day. Some are for meetings happening Right Now. Literally last minute. I don't attend a lot of those, as I am often busy with something else.

Remember: I promised it to someone else first.

And this last-minute panic never works. Half the people invited don't show up, or the critical person cancels at the last minute (often, again, literally. We are all there and then have to go back to our desks). In the end, poor calendar management principles means it still takes a week or three to actually meet with anyone.

I feel if everyone just took their appointment schedules as the promise they are implied to be, everything would be simpler. No re-schedules, no delays. My experience is that reducing panicked response makes people aware how important a crisis is; very often, by simply pushing people off I find that the sudden fire drill is not that big a deal, and we can deal with the problem in a few hours, or days instead.