I love to travel, and we usually make reservations prior to our departure. We plan our trip, reserve hotel rooms, purchase plane tickets, and reserve a car weeks before we are leaving. However, sometimes our plans change (deciding to stay longer is the usual reason). Then we wonder if we’ll find a hotel with a vacancy. Seeing a flashing “no vacancy” sign can cause a lot of stress while traveling down the highway.
This same stress can be caused when an entrepreneur or business owner has a schedule that has no vacancy. What I mean by that is if you fill your schedule up each day to the full limit of your allotted time, you are risking being over-booked. This falls in line with my previous post about work/life balance.
Never schedule to capacity
We’ve all been there. You are waiting to begin boarding your plane when the announcement tells you that the plane is over-booked. The frustration and often anger are apparent in everyone. Who will have to give up their seat if no one offers? If you offer, will you be inconveniencing those waiting for your arrival? What will that do to their plans?
Relate this to your calendar. If you book meetings back-to-back, and one runs longer than anticipated, you have only two choices: you can either cut the first one short and possibly lose momentum, or 2) you can be late for your next meeting. Either way, you lose! Allowing extra time between meetings will give a buffer so this doesn’t happen (or it will rarely happen). The same with scheduling phone calls. Leave more time than you expect each call to take.
If you work an eight-hour day, only schedule six or seven hours of calendar time. Why? If a meeting runs long, or a phone call takes more time than you expect, you can handle it without stress. Also, if an emergency arises, you’ll have time to address it, usually without having to reschedule something on your calendar.
Often others won’t follow these “vacancy” guidelines and this will cause an issue with your schedule. You’ll get a call asking if you can reschedule. If you were booked the solid eight hours for the rest of the week, you will have to tell them you cannot reschedule, or you’ll be required to reschedule someone else to fit this person in. That might not go over very well with that other person, and will certainly begin a domino effect that could go on for a long time until you get caught up on all the things you had to shuffle. And that doesn’t take into consideration the time you spent doing all the rescheduling!
The hour or more that you leave open on your calendar each day will allow you to almost always have the “vacancy” light on. When something happens that doesn’t allow a vacancy, you’ll be able to handle quite well because you know it is the exception and not the rule.
Also – and this is extremely important – other professionals will respect you for being on time, not rushing in at the last minute or not having to apologize for being late. You’ll also be admired for your ability to accommodate changes when necessary and not frequently asking to reschedule a meeting.
If the day goes well and nothing happened to fill in that extra hour or two, you just booked yourself a vacancy on your calendar to do as you choose.