Does your schedule Own you?

Scheduling is an art.  After 11 years of entrepreneurship I am convinced of this.  But just as there are different styles of art, there are different ways of managing schedules. And these different ways can drive a body crazy.

When we agree to an appointment with someone, we set aside the time on our calendar.  We prepare a presentation for the meeting. We identify the goals for the meeting, how long it will take to get there if it’s an in-person meeting, and what we’d ultimately like as an outcome of the meeting.  And then… at the last minute, we get the call.  “Do you mind terribly if we change our meeting to another day?” And all that planning and prep time goes up in smoke. . . .

If it’s an emergency, like a car breaking down or a health issue, that’s fully understandable.  Disappointing, but understandable.  Life happens. But if it is a regular occurrence, well, that’s a different story.  From my view, what is really being expressed is that something else came up that’s more important than the meeting with me.  And I’m being asked to juggle my schedule to accommodate this downgrade of priority. And this is an ethical dilemma that potentially creates conflict.

I don’t know how you feel about this, but I don’t like it much. I don’t like being asked to make changes to my own calendar to accommodate someone who has basically told me someone else is more important than me. My time is just as valuable as everyone else’s. When I accept an appointment and book it in my calendar I recognize I may be sacrificing my ability to meet with others who want that same time slot but just happen to call after it is filled. I have lost a client because I changed their appointments too many times to accommodate others who just “had” to have a particular time with me.

If the same person asks me to change our appointment three or more times, I find myself reluctant to continue working with that person. I lose trust that they’ll keep the meeting, and I’m unwilling to give up opportunities to see others who may have much more desire to work with me. Call me old-fashioned, but I like to manage my own schedule rather than allow it to manage me.   The only time I feel I can do this responsibly is at the initial negotiation of dates and times to meet. Once we make an agreement for a meeting, it should be our intention to respect the people we’re meeting and keep our commitment to them. 

How do you feel about this?

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