Misuse of scheduling tools leads to profound inefficiencies
The first time I told a female co-worker that I needed her to respond to my Doodle Poll I was reported for harassment. Time would reveal that this hazardous homophone was simply an attempt at efficient time management.
If I had a dollar for every Doodle Poll that I receive I’d probably get about six bucks a week. The email arrives inquiring about my availability, and then I click the link and hold my breath — will it be an efficient way of synchronizing a group meeting, or will I spend the next 30 minutes gazing at calendars and clicking on boxes?
The following are my tips for constructing an efficient Doodle Poll:
- Provide Just a Few Options. It is a nightmare to have to stare at a jillion poll options, scrolling from day to day, cross referencing against my calendar, and clicking the appropriate box. Eventually I just click the ones where others have indicated availability rather than waste my time, which skews results. Don’t list fifty open time slots. Give me five. My formula is five, plus one for every person in the meeting over three, but no more than ten.
- Block Realistic Time Slots. Busy people rarely have half a day free. Pick a time that’s realistic and make it happen.
- Close the Poll Quickly. Nobody is waiting for your poll to close before other business is scheduled. The information I put into a Doodle Poll is immediately expiring with a half-life of hours. Many times I have scheduled an open time slot only to have it close a few days later, and then a few days later received Doodle Poll notice of the final meeting time for something I could not possibly attend. Don’t publish a poll to populate and then close it two weeks later. Close it in 24 hours, and let participants know about that in the email. Tell them to “DO IT NOW!” Follow up and get it closed fast.
Adherence to these three simple rules makes for efficient scheduling. It shows respect for participants’ time and ensures that the meeting will likely be scheduled without conflicts.