Time Management Tip: Negotiating Tight Schedules

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Image of people walking down a sidewalk in a city, photography by R. Isip You’re trying to schedule a dinner date with a friend. They offer you a few days and times they are available.

You check your calendar, but things aren’t looking too good.

You’re unavailable during those slots and you’re not sure just how you should proceed; should you cancel or reschedule an appointment to make things work for you and your friend?

In this post I discuss a few ways to negotiate jam-packed schedules.

Negotiating tight schedules requires a bit of give and take.

In a perfect world, everyone’s schedules would match up perfectly and there would be no conflicts or complications. When it comes to negotiating schedules, oftentimes one party has to give up one appointment, meeting or previously scheduled item on their calendar. Keep in mind that everyone plays these roles; sometimes you’ll be on the receiving end and other times you’ll be on the giving end.

As you go back and forth with scheduling, you’ll realize on which side you’re standing. Is this a time where it’s just easier for you to bite the bullet and make a slight adjustment to your schedule, or is this a time where you need to see if the other party has a more flexible schedule and would perhaps be amenable to a change?

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Negotiate other items besides time. 

Obviously, you can negotiate the length of time of a meeting, but you can also negotiate other items in schedule. For example, you can negotiate a physical meeting location, the type of meeting (conference call, Skype, FaceTime or Google Chat), the number of people involved, the amount of work discussed and the like. Let’s say you don’t have a solid two blocks of time to meet with someone on a non-urgent work project. Could you split that meeting up in to two mini meetings so you can still meet and get your work done?

Know how far you are willing to negotiate. 

Just how far are you willing to go when it comes to scheduling an appointment? Is there a Tuesday zumba class you absolutely won’t reschedule no matter what, or are you more flexible when it comes to running errands and picking up your laundry from the cleaners on Saturdays? As an exercise in knowing yourself a bit better, you may want to consider ranking which items in your schedule are extremely important, versus those that are not so urgent. If your negotiations are completely stalled, you might just have to schedule that meeting or appointment several weeks in the future to make it work.

How about you? When it comes to negotiating a schedule, what items are you absolutely unwilling to give up under any circumstances? Join in the conversation and leave a comment below!

Follow Rashelle:
Rashelle Isip is a New York City-based professional organizer and productivity consultant who helps people get organized so they can stress less, have more fun, and be happier at home. Her work has been featured in Good Housekeeping, Fast Company, Cosmopolitan, The Washington Post, Business Insider, and The Atlantic. Get access to her free guide, 10 Simple Ways to Make Your To-Do Lists More Effective, by clicking here.
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