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Your calendar is everyone’s problem

Cathy Reisenwitz

by Cathy Reisenwitz on November 14, 2019

No one is really happy with the state of meetings in 2019. The average employee attends 62 meetings per month, and that number is only going up. The average employee spends 4.8 hours every week just scheduling meetings, according to Doodle.

Once you finish the back-and-forth with every participant and get a meeting scheduled, chances are high it’ll be canceled, forgotten, double-booked, or rescheduled.

You can use software to help tame the chaos – you can find more than 200 kinds of meeting software on one directory alone. But these solutions don’t address the elephant in the meeting room: When your calendar is messed up, everyone’s calendar is messed up.

Calendaring is inherently social. We got into this mess together, and we’re going to have to work together to get out of it.

First, let’s discuss three ways we mess up our calendars. Then, how we can fix them.

1. We spend too much time scheduling

It takes an average of eight emails to schedule a single meeting, according to Dennis R. Mortensen, CEO and Founder of x.ai. And heaven forbid we have to reschedule.

Greg Sabo manages ten Engineers at Asana. Whenever Greg scheduled a new recurring one-on-one he’d have to schedule the first few weeks individually because he couldn’t find one consistently available time slot. “That was pretty annoying,” Greg said. He also needed to proactively identify conflicts and then spend time every week manually moving his one-on-ones.

2. We don’t get enough Focus Time

When scheduling a meeting, most people look at their calendar and pick the slot that’s best for them, then make sure their coworkers are free at that time. Most people aren't trained to consider the cost of a particular meeting time to the other attendee's productivity.

This is despite the fact that we know that context switching decreases productivity. Shifting between tasks can eat up as much as 40% of your productive time. “People need to stop thinking about one task in order to fully transition their attention and perform well on another,” write the authors of a study on attention residue. ”Yet, results indicate it is difficult for people to transition their attention away from an unfinished task and their subsequent task performance suffers.”

Being constantly interrupted at work lowers your IQ as much as losing one night’s sleep and twice as much as smoking cannabis. According to a McKinsey Global Institute study, the average employee spends 61% of their time slogging through email, trying to find a missing file, or syncing with co-workers. When asked, 18% of employees said that uninterrupted blocks of work time would do the most to improve their productivity at work.

Focus Time is an underappreciated, but ever more important, requirement for accomplishing your objectives. We define it as two-hour (or more) blocks of uninterrupted time you can use to dive deep into a project and make real progress.

The trouble with scheduling is that even if you find a way to carve out Focus Time for yourself, it’s difficult to schedule meetings that don’t negatively impact others’ Focus Time.

The collaborative solution

Software solutions like the aforementioned x.ai and and Doodle are doing the hard work reducing the manual effort required to schedule a meeting. They help automate determining when people can attend a meeting. But they’re not able to tell you the best time to meet in terms of Focus Time.

The Clockwise meeting scheduler maximizes Focus Time for everyone on the team. It scans the calendars of everyone in the meeting, and suggests the time that will best preserve everyone’s Focus Time and doesn’t conflict with any other meetings.

When everyone on a team uses Clockwise’s Meeting Scheduler, Focus Time events, and Autopilot features, everyone gets to spend less time on scheduling meetings. And, those meetings are automatically scheduled to maximize Focus Time.

Our calendars got messy together. With Clockwise we can work together to tame the chaos, reduce the manual work, and make more time for heads-down work.

Cathy Reisenwitz

Cathy Reisenwitz

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