Keeping your calendar up to date would save you and your colleagues much time and frustration by avoiding sending invitations to people that are out of office or unavailable.
We have all ran into cases where we have tried to setup a meeting with a few key people, and finally, after finding a free slot, we have received an invitation-reject from one of the required people, stating that they are actually out-of-office at that particular time or have another meeting that they can’t move/cancel. And then we need to start all over again – find another precious free time slot…
We can all avoid that by making sure that our calendar is reflecting our availability. Let’s cover the main items (besides the regular meetings, which are trivial to have in our calendar).
Arrival and leave hours
Many people have regular arrival time to work. Maybe it is different per day, but for the same day in the week, it is the same week after week. It might be changing due to traffic, but we all have a good estimation when we should arrive to work.
In the industry I come from (computer software), the work place is flexible for work hours – not for the amount of hours, but rather for the start/end of a work day. There are “early birds” that come at 6:30am and there are the late arrivals that come at 10:00am.
When people do not reflect their morning arrival time in their calendar, it is impossible to use the 7am-10am slot efficiently. Same goes for the leaving hours.
Therefore, add a meeting into your calendar that starts from your day-end and finishes at your day-start. This meeting should be shown as out-of-office. You can set for that meeting a reminder in case you want to be reminded when you suppose to go home (useful for those of us that have bad work-home balance).
Let’s take an example.
- Let’s say I arrive at 7:30am, but sometimes there is a traffic jam which delays my arrival. But I know that in 95% of the cases I arrive before 8:00am.
- Let’s say that I have one short day where I leave at 15:30pm and one long day where I leave at 19:30pm.
This is how my calendar should reflect my Mon-Fri work week:
- Monday: out-of-office meeting that starts at 17:30pm and ends at Tuesday 8:00am.
- Tuesday: out-of-office meeting that starts at 17:30pm and ends at Wednesday 8:00am.
- Wednesday: let’s assume this is my short day, so out-of-office meeting that starts at 15:30pm and ends at Thursday 8:00am.
- Thursday: let’s assume this is my long day, so out-of-office meeting that starts at 19:30pm and ends at Friday 8:00am.
- Friday: out-of-office meeting that starts at 17:30pm and ends at Monday 8:00am. This is reflecting my weekend unavailability.
Each of the above out-of-office meetings should be re-occurring. You set it once in your calendar and you are all set – your calendar reflects your start/end of your day. If you have exception on a certain day, just change a specific meeting occurrence (not the meeting series). Simple.
Some people eat 12:00pm-13:00pm, some eat 12:30pm-13:30pm, some take a short lunch 12:30pm-13:00pm. Mark them, unless you want people to call a meeting over your lunch time.
Meetings with yourself
This section deserves a post for itself, but I’ll make it short here. There are times you want to have time slot for yourself without interruptions. In such cases, mark those time slots in your calendar as meetings. With whom? With yourself. Those are the meetings I personally value the most. Using that technique, you gain control over your schedule instead of letting others dictate your schedule. We might talk about those meetings in later posts.