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I have received feed back from a few people in my organization that I don't have enough "free time" on my calendar (Outlook). They want to be able to book meetings the day of the meeting, and these are not high priority meetings.

My calendar is setup with my reoccurring items and travel in advance (1-2 weeks). Before I leave each day I put on my calendar items I need to work on for the next day. This means 80-90% of my day is blocked off. The other time I leave open in case some thing comes up and for checking on my directs. I even put what I am doing out of the office on my calendar. This way every thing is in one location.

Is this not typical of how other people use there calendar?

mauzenne's picture

You rock! I wouldn't change a thing. The idea that folks want you to keep your calendar open so they can schedule non-priority meetings at the last moment is nuts.

Mike

US101's picture

It's nice to Mike answering this post personally, especially cuz it's from 2006. It's never too late give good advice.

bteachman's picture

[quote="US101"]It's nice to Mike answering this post personally, especially cuz it's from 2006. It's never too late give good advice.[/quote]

Umm 2006, i posted the question tonight (8/19/2008).

tomw's picture

[quote="bteachman"][quote="US101"]It's nice to Mike answering this post personally, especially cuz it's from 2006. It's never too late give good advice.[/quote]

Umm 2006, i posted the question tonight (8/19/2008).[/quote]

That's 2006 California time. They're ahead of the rest of the country ;-)

I think your calendar sounds exactly normal. It's not realistic to expect to book meetings at the last minute and get everyone to show up.

I've had similar requests from people. My response was "book a little more ahead, and you will find time."

HMac's picture

Brandon -
Great post. Here's my suggestion on how to respond to people who complain that your calendar is too booked for them to schedule same-day low-priority meetings:

[i]"Huh?"[/i]

(How well can you add a note of incredulity to it?)

If you're a [i]Daily Show [/i]fan, add:

[i]"Are you [b]insane[/b]?"[/i]

:lol:

-Hugh

MsSunshine's picture

[b]Bottom line:[/b] This left me wondering if there is another problem really lurking under the question. Is their inability to get to you stopping them from doing something critical in their job? Have you asked what they needed to talk to you about?

I'd go back to the person or persons asking for this with some questions. I'd probably start with something like "I've gotten feedback from you that you feel like I'm not accessible. Can you give me more details about what you need from my part of the organization so that we can work out how we can support your needs?"

Specifically,
1. Do they really need to talk to [b]you[/b] on a moment's notice? If it's in a specific area, maybe that could be delegated to a direct to interface with them and handle issues. It would depend on the directs you have and the topic of discussion.
2. Is there some critical connection between your groups that really does require they have short notice access to you?
3. If it's really not "urgent", do you interface enough with the person so that maybe you need a standing meeting? Then they could wait until then.

kklogic's picture

I have received similar feedback. My compromise was to set my blocked off time as "tentative" when possible (obviously, shown as busy when I absolutely NEEDED to get that work done during that time).

I found that my recurring tasks (like weekly review on Friday afternoons and such) could be moved. I needed to be a little flexible with my calendar. Sometimes emergency meetings come up - or there is only one time a group can meet up because of other people's schedules.

HMac's picture

kklogic's approach is good, because you [i]might [/i]be overdoing it a bit by using your calendar to schedule yourself, and giving the impression that you're not available.

But don't forget there are other ways to communicate: like...the phone. And stopping by. Not with the expectation of meeting with you right then and there, but being able to briefly say: "I think I need 20 minutes of your time to discuss x.."

ANY approach can be misused or abused. I just find it's more effective in the long run to provide people with several ways to initiate contact with me, several ways to ask for time.

-Hugh

bflynn's picture

Don't change a thing. You are doing what you need to do and using your time most effectively. It is not your problem if someone didn't plan far enough in advance to include you on something.

If they really need you, they can pick up the phone and personally invite you to a meeting and tell you why you care about it. Otherwise, they can schedule it out a week or two and see where things land.

Brian

cwatine's picture

I would not change my way. And I would investigate a little bit.

If I were you, I would be very interested in knowing what kind of meeting have to be planned the same day! Sounds like disorganization.

With a team meeting and O3 each week, they have got plenty of opportunities to ask questions and to plan meetings for the next week.

Being organized doesn't mean being constantly available (empty calendar)..
It means that you master your schedule.
In case of (a real) emergency, it means that you can very quicky reorganize your schedule to fit the emergency in it... .
You just need to be sure not to fall in the trap of being too rigid by not allowing any change in what's been planned.
More organization means more flexibiliy.

If it is just what you are doing, dont change a thing..

HMac's picture

[quote="bflynn"]It is not your problem if someone didn't plan far enough in advance to include you on something.[/quote]

...unless of course it affects your ability to achieve your results.

Then, unfortunately, is IS your problem.
:)

-Hugh

bflynn's picture

[quote="bteachman"] and these are not high priority meetings[/quote]

[quote="bflynn"]It is not your problem if someone didn't plan far enough in advance to include you on something.[/quote]

[quote="HMac"]
...unless of course it affects your ability to achieve your results.

Then, unfortunately, is IS your problem.
:)

-Hugh[/quote]

Very true. Then it would be a high priority meeting...

Brian

thaGUma's picture

I am not so sure. If colleagues need to set up a meeting at short notice and you have blocked out your calendar then you make life extremely difficult – you absolutely need to indicate which times are up for negotiation. Do not block out as busy unless essential. Tag it as free or tentative then you get a say in whether or not to accept a booking without sending negative messages.

You don’t mange priorities – you have them. Mine change with the wind as funding or clients dictate. Hard structure = dead in the water. :twisted:

Chris

tomw's picture

I've used the tagging feature in Outlook to mark which items I have to be at (Must Attend), which ones I am out of the office for (Travel), and which ones are just me getting something done on my own (Flexible).

The teams trying to book time with me love it.

ctomasi's picture

BLUF: Be sure items on your calendar are really necessary.

I had a similar situation when my former boss' position was created (Director over my first level manager). He noticed I was in a lot of meetings already - I still had lots of blocks of time for me to get things done.

He was able to help me free up 4-6 hours a week by getting out of non-critical meetings or taking them over from me as part of his new position.