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Handling calendar conflicts

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  • Handling calendar conflicts

    Would like any tips on how to handle calendar conflicts, when you have two things on at the same time that you would really like to attend, or have to attend, how do you handle it?

    For example today I was booked in to attend a health and safety meeting with the general managers, but Friday morning I found out that there was a person coming to visit our Werribee site from interstate, and doing some really interesting work that relates to what we do, and of course it is scheduled for today, and it's really rare to get these type of opportunities. There were three others that could have attended the meeting today instead of me, I checked and one was at a meeting, the other working offsite, and another on annual leave. So with a heavy heart I decided I had to keep to the committment to the original meeting, and very disappointed to miss out. I checked my emails this morning before I left home in case there were any updates about the plans for today, and none. I get into work this morning and find one person's meeting is cancelled and they can attend the meeting - but it's too late, I'm already at work and so can't attend the Werribee site meeting (1.5 hours travel by public transport).

    I have another conflict on Wednesday also where I'm missing out on something I'd enjoy doing for work to attend a meeting I need to go to.

    How can I better manage these things so I can attend the things I'd really enjoy?

  • #2
    It sounds as though you have hit that not-so-unusual situation of "There's only one of me."

    Life is about choices.

    There are usually only a few options for this situation: re-schedule one of the meetings; get someone to cover for you at one of them; bail out of one based upon higher priority drivers; meet your commitment to the person who asked first.

    Usually, for me, the first-past-the-post wins: Whoever got on my calendar first will win. I usually have no sympathy for someone who informs me this week that I need to attend a meeting that conflicts with one that has been on my calendar for a few months. Game over; you lose!

    The only exceptions that I can think of are meetings that are *truly* vitally important for me to personally attend, e.g., someone has just bought the company (that's happened a couple of times!); the roll-out of a radically new employee performance-review system; one-time-only discussion of a multi-million-dollar project (and there are precious few of those in my area of responsibility).

    I hope this helps.



    • #3
      Need to be confident in knowing your priorities

      This is where you really need to know your goals and priorities. And if you've been keeping your commitments (thanks to GTD!) your boss and colleagues should be used to you renegotiating and following through, which makes future renegotiating much easier (because they know you aren't just blowing them off).


      • #4
        At the time, I did make the tough decision that first on the calendar wins (mainly because that was a quick and easy decision). Later, with some deeper thinking, I realised that the opportunity to engage with someone from an interstate plant about their strategic direction was a one off opportunity that I should have taken advantage of, when I looked at it from a Horizons of Focus point of view it was much more important than a regular health & safety meeting.

        In hindsight, I think the real reason I missed out on the opportunity was because I tried to short cut the processing. At the time I found out about the opportunity there was still time to renegotiate the meeting, however I had several tasks and calendar activities on my schedule for that day, and comparing my calendar with this option I decided I really needed to focus on my calendar first, and would process it later in the day. Of course the calendar activities took longer than I'd thought and I didn't get time to process and renegotiate the committment. And in hindsight there was one calendar item I could have pushed back on which would have given me time to process and act on the opportunity. So this was a good reminder not to have things on your calendar if they can be pushed back, they do prevent you from having a bit of flexible time and being able to deal with things that arise. Also, processing earlier gives you a better ability to make good decisions about how to spend your time when your time is limited.