If your job requires more than one or two scheduled events in a typical week, you probably aren’t leveraging a scheduling service, online assistant, or even your own office hours. Let’s talk about that more.
I work as a Technical Product Manager where a large amount of time is spent in scheduled events. These are meetings that are part of working in a large company, meetings from my team’s processes, and many meetings I put together.
When I was first starting out in the role, I would waste so much time trying to communicate back & forth with people about scheduling a meeting. I would say that I would spend more time talking about scheduling a meeting rather than meeting in itself. In my opinion, this is a huge burden to our limited cognitive cycles we have each day.
You might think it’s not that many emails to figure out a time that works for people, but add in some context switching, a few new time proposals, and you’ll realize this gets dragged out from a single task that should take 5 minutes to a stream of back & forth emails until something finally works out weeks later.
As with everything, there’s better ways. Better ways to schedule and definitely better ways to think about this problem.
Enter scheduling services. These have only become popular in the last few years or so, and still there’s not enough people leveraging them. When I would run a Comedy Improv theater, these became essential to put on shows. If you didn’t put your availability into a shared scheduling service, chances are you were not going to perform that weekend.
This is no different for the corporate world. Although there are tools that are built into most email providers to help you look at other people’s calendars & schedule a small window of time you both might be available, chances are it may not even end up working out.
In these cases, I like to consider the following rule. Put the scheduling into someone else’s hands. You can do this easily with services like Calendly, Acuity, Bookings, clara, and many more. These services work as online assistants that give you a simple link to send to people to book what’s available to them & most importantly convenient.
But what about group scheduling? There’s definitely services for that like doodle, rally, and more. These allow you to poll others for their ideal availabilities to which you can schedule a meeting that is optimized for the majority or key stakeholders.
Let’s talk about a third concept you might want to use. Personal office hours. Many professors, subject matter experts, & sophisticated product groups may put on office hours to answer any questions that may come up. But what prevents you from putting up your own office hours? This gives people a no-pressure venue to get your attention, and better yet, you are dedicating the time to be distracted! It’s a win-win. You could put on an office hour once a week to start, or you can even try to replace the need of emailing by giving people the guarantee that you’ll be reachable in some capacity (in person, video call, instant messenger, etc).
I hope this blog has helped you re-think scheduling & more importantly challenging the unstructured workflows you may engage in daily to replace them with something that maximizes value and most importantly, makes you happy. These three things have made my life easier & figured I’d share it with you.