Do you consistently overbook your schedule at home or work?
Are you interested in straightening out your calendar and putting things back in order?
An overbooked schedule is not only frustrating and stressful, but it is also wasteful.
A chaotic schedule prevents you from making the most out of your time and reaching your goals.
In this post, I offer five tips to help you stop overbooking your schedule.
Keep in mind that a schedule is not unlike a living thing.
A schedule grows and changes, and needs to be carefully tended to if it is to function properly.
You can use these tips to prevent overbooking in any type of schedule, be it professional, personal or academic.
Create scheduling guidelines.
One way to stop overbooking your schedule is to create a series of scheduling guidelines. This technique can be especially useful if you consistently schedule appointments yourself or have an assistant who does so on your behalf. All you have to do is to identify a series of criteria or guidelines to follow when it comes to scheduling appointments. You can be as general or as detailed as you’d like.
Some scheduling guidelines include identifying the earliest an appointment can be scheduled in the morning, the latest an appointment can be scheduled in the afternoon or evening, days to schedule doctor’s appointments, days to accept new client meetings, and so on.
Put an end to sloppy scheduling.
It’s a smart idea to schedule appointments into available time slots in a calendar. Scheduling appointments without checking or confirming other items in your calendar, however, can be a recipe for disaster. Before placing an appointment into an empty time slot, it’s important to consider other factors related to your schedule.
For example, what comes before and after the appointment? Is there travel involved? How much? What preparations must you make in advance of your appointment? Will there be any potential overlaps or conflicts?
A bit of thinking can potentially save you from some major scheduling headaches.
Place recurring activities into your calendar.
You regularly attend a series of ongoing lectures at the local college on Tuesday nights. One week, you receive a last-minute dinner invitation and say “yes, I’ll attend,” only to realize you’ve accidentally double-booked yourself. If only you had placed those lectures into your schedule!
It’s a good idea to avoid solely relying on your memory for recurring activities and appointments. Sooner or later, a meeting or appointment request will unexpectedly pop up, and you may forget you already have a commitment for that time. Play it safe, and place recurring activities in your calendar. If anything, doing so will give you peace of mind when it comes to scheduling items in future.
Assign a time duration for appointments.
Jotting down “Gym workout” on Saturday afternoon is a good start if you want to ensure you get a workout. But just how long will that appointment be? Will your workout go from 2 P.M. to 3 P.M., or 2:30 P.M. to 3 P.M., or some other time duration? Simply writing in an appointment in your calendar without a time reference can quickly cause problems, especially if you have an engagement before or after said appointment.
Don’t let a little laziness create a potentially hazardous situation in your calendar. Assign a specific amount of time for meetings and appointments, such as 30 minutes, 45 minutes, 90 minutes, and so on. Unsure as to how long an appointment will last? Make an educated guess and round out the appointment length to the nearest quarter-hour.
Block out time in your calendar for potential activities.
Unsure as to whether or not you’ll commit to a volunteer park clean up or a happy hour networking event next week? Go ahead and block out the time in your calendar anyway. Doing so allows you to easily compare and evaluate potential activities. There’s no need to think about whether or not you have anything tentatively scheduled for that time slot; the item is already there in your schedule.
To prevent confusion, make sure you clearly identify your potential appointment in your calendar. You can simply place “HOLD FOR X” into your calendar, as in “HOLD FOR VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITY,” or “HOLD FOR HAPPY HOUR NETWORKING,” and review the potential activity when the time comes.
How about you? Where in your schedule is overbooking a problem? Which of the above tips do you think you’ll try out to curb overbooking? Join the conversation and leave a comment below!