How to conquer meeting schedule conflicts

You’re staring down tomorrow’s schedule, wondering how the heck you managed to double-book yourself – again – to two equally important meetings. Not to mention that after the chaos and “busyness” of last week, you promised yourself to find your flow with some much-needed Focus Time.

Instead of beating yourself up for the unfortunate calendar mishap, imagine this instead...

You open up your calendar and look at the most optimal arrangement of meetings and other commitments. No more last-minute reschedules, cancellations, and other scheduling issues. No more apologies or a “good enough” schedule.

It’s possible! And, it all starts here with our mini-guide for conquering scheduling conflicts.

Breaking down the meaning of “schedule conflict”

A schedule conflict — you might also hear people call it a scheduling conflict — is the problem that arises when you’re dealing with incompatible availabilities or events.

In this blog, we’re using the term ‘events’ to refer to anything that you can schedule, including meetings, appointments, and tasks.

Common workplace scheduling conflicts can look like:

  • Double-booking, committing to be two places at once, which (unless you have Hermione Granger’s time-turner from Prisoner of Askaban) is not possible.
  • Being unable to find time to schedule with another person or a group of people due to clashing schedules. We’ve all been there.
  • Overcrowding your schedule, not considering the necessity for buffer time. We need buffer time to account for things like travel time, tech issues, and meetings that run over (which we try to avoid, but hey, it happens). Also, when will there be time to replenish our coffee mugs for the second (or third) time?

Schedule conflicts don’t necessarily have to apply to your calendar either. For instance, if you’re someone who manages the employee schedule where you work, you might create a scheduling conflict for someone else by assigning a shift during someone’s vacation.

The old-school way of managing schedules

You can keep track of your schedule or your team’s schedule with the help of a ready-made schedule or calendar template (Microsoft has tons that are free to download). The drawback, of course, is that templates require a lot of manual effort. Once upon a time, not having to create a document from scratch was a welcome change, but nowadays we know that data entry isn’t the best use of our time either. We expect more from our tools.

That brings us to our tried-and-true methods for protecting ourselves from scheduling conflicts.

6 ways to prevent meeting conflicts and schedule with ease

1. Automate, automate, automate.

Adding an AI-powered calendar to your toolbox is hands-down the best thing you can do in 2021. It helps you cut out unnecessary steps, like administrative busywork. It might seem counterintuitive to automate your calendar when your main goal is to take control of your time. But with tools like Clockwise, you’re always in the driver’s seat and you call the shots for how the tool manages your time.

2. Sync your calendars.

These days, we all have so many gadgets and ways of logging upcoming events. From physical agendas to phones to Google Calendar. It’s a lot. If it’s not possible to prune your scheduling apps (maybe you prefer iCloud, but your team prefers Google, requiring you to use both), make sure everything’s working in harmony with automatic syncing. Syncing multiple calendars ensures that when you update one calendar, the other calendars also update to reflect those changes. This is a fail-safe to prevent pertinent information (like an updated meeting time) from slipping through the cracks. Never accidentally book an unavailable time slot again.

3. Plan in advance when you can.

This one might seem obvious, but it’s worth mentioning. Giving yourself and others ample head’s up is the best way to stay ahead of your schedule and communicate that you respect your time and the time of other team members. Of course, things happen at the last minute, but don’t make that a regular habit.

4. For teams, put a scheduling system in place.

We’re going to take a tip out of the project management handbook, which emphasizes having a ‘definition of done.’ ‘Definition of done’ is a checklist that determines whether or not a task or project is complete. Why is this important? Because what one person considers done might be totally different from another person’s standard. Likewise, you can implement a ‘definition of scheduled’ when it comes to booking a new meeting. Specify that sending a meeting request doesn’t guarantee a spot on your schedule, that a verbal agreement or DM on social media is not enough, and so on. Making sure that there’s clear understanding across the whole team prevents miscommunication and misunderstanding.

5. Identify dependencies early on.

Let’s say you have two meetings on your schedule: Meeting A and Meeting B. Meeting B can’t happen until Meeting A does. The relationship between the two meetings is called a dependency, and it’s so important to know where those exist in your schedule so that you can avoid messing with the timeline.

6. Be clear about what’s flexible and what’s non-negotiable.

Determine which events must stay fixed on the schedule and which events offer some wiggle room. (Pro tip: Clockwise factors this in when optimizing your calendar.)

By putting these tips to use, you stop scheduling conflicts from becoming literal conflicts. Conflicts with your colleagues, with your family, and yes, with yourself. Make time for what matters. Make your schedule work for you, not the other way around.

What to do when you can’t resolve a time conflict with another meeting

You might be thinking, “This all seems great, but what do I do when two conflicting meetings just won’t budge?” Try as we might, it’s not always possible to accommodate outside factors like other people’s schedules. In that case, be kind to yourself — you’re human after all.

Here’s a quick rundown of the dos and don’ts of dealing with time conflicts.

Do:

  • Communicate with the other person that you’re unable to attend the meeting
  • Offer a sincere apology for any inconvenience
  • Give a small explanation for why you can’t make it, if appropriate
  • If the meeting is going to take place without you, ask for a summary of the meeting notes along with important action items.

Don’t:

  • Overexplain (it’s okay to say “no”)
  • Expect others to bend to the will of your schedule
  • Force-fit all requests into your calendar

Ready for effortless scheduling? Clockwise can help

Now that you know how to conquer schedule conflicts, it’s time to turn your knowledge into action. Luckily, we have a one-step solution that encompasses everything you just learned: Clockwise, your smart calendar assistant.

Here are just a few of the ways that our scheduling software optimizes your calendar, helping you plan with ease.

  • Clockwise creates Focus Time by rearranging flexible items on your schedule, turning spare minutes into long stretches of time for you to finally find your flow.
  • Clockwise optimizes your schedule to automatically resolve meeting conflicts, protect Focus Time, and cater to your and your teammates’ preferences.
  • Clockwise seamlessly integrates with your favorite tools — Google Calendar, Slack, and Zoom. When your tools work in harmony, you don’t have to manually update across different platforms.

Moving forward

Scheduling shouldn’t be headache-inducing. You deserve to wake up, look at your calendar, and feel confident in the day ahead. Automating your calendar goes beyond giving yourself one less thing to do.

When you spend less time micromanaging your schedule, you gain the energy and mental bandwidth to feel more inspired, more focused, and more engaged with life. Here at Clockwise, we want you to finally say goodbye to overwhelm and take control of your life — which starts with taking control of your calendar.

You in? Try us out for yourself by downloading our Google Chrome extension now.

Posted in:
Future of Work

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