My Position on Automated Scheduling Has Completely Reversed
What an odd thing to see in a predominantly Search & Social Marketing Blog. But here’s the deal, I had a call get canceled this AM, and I’ve been behind on my blog writing for awhile now, and this is something I’m actually pretty excited about.
About a month ago, I finally gave in and tried automated meeting scheduling… again. See, I had tried it a couple of years ago, and it had made a horrible mess of things. Whether this is because there are now newer features that make life easier, or because I’m slightly less of a giant idiot than I was 2 years ago… I do not know. However, this time around I can say that Calendly has begun to save me hours (estimated?) per week in back-and-forth scheduling over email, and I’m addicted to it now.
Part of what has changed for me, and what I’m about to share with you (“hang on to your butts” – to quote Samuel Jackson), is that I learned a few crucial tricks to make the scheduling process smooth. Don’t work for the app, make the app work for you.
Here are six things I did with Calendly that made me finally fall in love with automated scheduling. To be clear, there are other option out there, I just found particular joy in Calendly, and didn’t have time to research 27 others… so there you have it.
6 Things To Do With Calendly To Make It Serve You
(1) Limit Number of Meetings Per Day to 2
“Two?!?!” You say. “That’s ridiculous.”
Well, please keep in mind that my job consists of responding to client emails, discussing strategy with team members, assigning tasks, getting into accounts myself for optimizations, writing blogposts, prepping speaking sessions, the list goes on and on.
If your job is primarily client communication or sales, then 2 is low. If you’re like me and have to wear many hats, you need to find a number per day that will still allow you to get the rest of your stuff done. For me, that magic number is 2. It keeps me sane, and still lets me have enough open time-slots so people can schedule meetings with me and not have to wait 17 weeks.
(2) Add a 15 Minute Buffer In Between Meetings
I’m an introvert, so all “people connection” drains me, and I’ve found that not scheduling back-to-back meetings is crucial. It’s hard to explain this unless you are similar in personality, but it literally wears me out. I have to take a few deep breaths, and prep for the next one mentally and I just can’t do that if I am hanging up the phone and dialing again in the next second.
Practically, I also prefer to prep for meetings and need time in between meetings to do this. I like to open necessary tabs, remind myself of previous conversations or meeting prep notes, and generally be mentally ready for the next call.
Having a set time in between meetings helps this significantly.
(3) Be Ravenously Jealous About Your Open Time-slots
This took me awhile to understand, but I finally got it. If you *have* to have a meeting, then ensure that it’s not getting in the way of actual hard work. I know that’s somewhat awful to say, but it is the reality. You can likely accomplish way more while not in a meeting, so ensure you are giving preference to all of the other things in your life before meetings.
What I have found is that when you do this, you will **** always**** have some slot, eventually, that works with the person who is trying to set up a meeting with you (whether client or sales prospect or employee), yet by ensuring everything else in your life was given preference, you are keeping yourself sane. You don’t resent meetings when you had time to get everything done.
I am jealous of my time in these 3 practical ways:
- I limit the open slots to 2 small times per day, never before 9am and never after 4pm. This depends on the day as well. Some days I have adjusted open slots. Whatever the slot though, remember that someone can only schedule a call twice a day. This keeps the calls (for me at least) spread out, and always in my comfort slots when I have had my coffee and am top-performing.
- I do not allow scheduled calls on Friday. Friday is my catch-up day, and if I’m ever going to duck out early on a week it is on Friday. Friday is not a meeting day, it is a “make sure we’re good for the weekend” day and all non-emergency meetings can be taken up the next week.
- I am quick to block off entire time-slots if I know something is coming up (whether personal or business). For instance, the first week of my month is always packed with pulling reports, so I will be quick to throw a block on the first 4 or so days. This prevents anyone from interrupting these. I am quick to throw up blocks for anything. If I think I will be more tired a certain day, I throw up a block. Embrace the freedom, it’s amazing!
Whatever the reason, YOU CONTROL THE SCHEDULE. That is the key here. Oddly enough, I found more freedom with control switching to an automated meeting scheduler then I did when I was emailing back and forth in real-time conversation discussing open times!
(4) Ask Them What You Can Prep for the Meeting
Within Calendly, you can add in a custom message. I decided to add in a quick question… and it’s been a great addition to these scheduled calls! It always annoys me when someone asks for a call without giving a heads-up on what it will be about. I am a planner, and a preparer. I like to have everything ready so we can have a productive meeting.
All I did was to ask the simple question: “Is there anything specific you would like me to prepare for this call?” Even getting a few words answer is a great indicator of what the call will be about, and I can prepare for it to make the meeting more efficient… i.e., FASTER. 🙂
(5) Integrate an UberConference link
Insert your conference call option of choice. Whatever it might be, you can avoid unnecessary back and forth emails (EFFICIENCY) on calls. I recently began using UberConference and have really been liking it. I have the link in my Calendly email so my client or prospect knows when they schedule how we will have the call.
(6) Set 30 Minute Deadlines (or 15 if you are brave)
Finally, I think setting a meeting deadline is an important feature. Virtually all meetings do **not** need 60 minutes, many do not even need 30. Because my calls are primarily with clients connecting during a month, or prospects where we have a bit to talk about and discuss, I have chosen 30 minutes for my deadline. You may find 15 minutes is more up your alley. I will caution you to not underestimate because you don’t want to bump calls up against each other if they consistently go long. Regardless, it helps the people on the other side of your call going into the meeting to have an expectation of your chosen deadline.
Well, that about wraps it up. I hated Calendly when I tried it the first time, and now I can’t imagine life without it. What about you? Do you have a favorite tip? I’d love to know the smart ways you are using Calendly (or other automated meeting schedulers) to make your communication more efficient. Tweet them to me at @PPCKirk and let’s learn together!