Scheduling, Calendaring, Tasks and Selling

For most of my formative years prior to college, I did things as needed. I slept when I was tired, went to school when I woke up, and came and went home on the bus because it was there. I attended practices for the sport du jour which the car pool picked up and dropped me off, and basically, I just showed up–essentially going through my tasks by thinking about which day of the week it was (Hmmm, Tuesday. Must be piano…)

In college I kept a planner for academics and school social functions, but I was at the whim of proximity when a new event showed up–proximity to my paper calendar, that is–and if I didn’t enter the event on my calendar right then–which meant track down my calendar right then–then the event didn’t get entered which means I didn’t plan for it. As and example of the issues which arose, there was more than one dropped ball. As a “for instance”, I remember I had promised my mother I would go see a play with her. On the day of the play, some event had my attention, and so I forgot to show up. Oops. (Obviously I still feel guilty or I wouldn’t be remembering this so many years later…) This is pre-texting days which means pre-cell phones, and connecting with someone either verbally or physically was much more labor intensive than it is now. But, a better maintained paper calendar might have prevented this from happening.

Now-a-days I have lots of calendars. But this isn’t by choice but because of necessity. A job, three children, a spouse and a bunch of pets means everything needs time–that is, needs MY time. So I have my personal calendar, my business calendar, my children’s calendars, and my wife’s calendar(s). My pets currently don’t have a calendar, but have raised their various paws and fins in request. And with all these entities vying for my time, what now happens is my calendar gets regularly thrown out the window.

So what am I getting at? Having a connected calendar in our current era is a necessity. Having a calendar which is connected to others, be they business colleagues or associates is a necessity. Planning for your family’s movements on a day-to-day and week-to-week basis is a necessity. But ultimately, a calendar is for creating “space” where you can get your work done, and this function of calendaring should be the highest priority but is where most of us make it the lowest.

Too many times we have something on OUR calendar, but we have a tenuous commitment to it. We put things on our calendar without really expecting to do them.

If we block out time for writing (like this blog), and a friend calls and we take that call, then we are not being committed to the calendar. We can schedule prospecting, keep-in-touch calls, e-mail creation, you name it, but if we don’t follow what we’ve scheduled, then the calendar is worthless.

Let me wax poetic for a little more about this: If we have scheduled a meeting for 2:00PM but we need to contact the other party that we’ll be late because our current meeting ran late, then you and the parties involved in the current meeting are not honoring that calendar commitment. I see this happen in big companies and with executives a lot. Many years ago, for one of my customers it was a two week process to get on an executive’s calendar, and woe for me if I ended up with a late afternoon slot. These executives had meetings back-to-back, their calendar a visual solid colorblock of meeting after meeting after meeting. There was no wiggle room. So when the usual happened, that is, a meeting which ran a little long or a sidebar that opened up after the meeting had ended, the executive would show up late to the next meeting, starting the snowball rolling so that by the end of the day he was running significantly behind. I mean SIGNIFICANTLY. If I had scheduled a meeting for 4:00PM (assistants at this company would schedule executives up to 6:00PM) the exec might walk in after 4:20. Since I was only a sales rep, then he would use my time to realign his schedule and cut our planned hour to less than half. So two things were happening here: 1) the executive’s behavior was rude–that is, he was being inconsiderate of my time and 2) he was cutting short on the message being delivered, meaning he would walk away short of information.

This is very important, so I’ll expound upon this. If you have a meeting, there is a certain amount of time taken up by just entering the meeting space, making introductions and initial small talk. Just like Monty Python says in The Meaning of Life, you just don’t go “…stampeding for the…” So taking a little time to set the stage is important.

But to my other point, the executives hadn’t created any space. They had meeting after meeting, but no time to execute on the outcomes of the meetings. That was for when they went home…

On top of that, one important lesson from school was forgotten: classes only ran 50 minutes. You had to give the students enough time to get to their next class and take a bathroom break.

How does this relate to Scheduling, Calendaring, Tasks and Selling? Because many times, when someone looks at an electronic calendar and if they see an open block of time, it is assumed that person is available. Time and time again I’ve seen people’s toes stepped on by individuals running rogue over someone using the other tools of modern communication (like Instant Message or Skype). If the light shows “Available” then the person must be available, right? If the time block on the calendar is open, they must be available, right?

Be aware when scheduling appointments or tasks. Create space on either side of the time for travel, preparation, follow-up…and respect the space that you’ve created so that you can perform the tasks which need to get done and you can get the sale.

Or just throw your hands up and give your pet attention. Woof. Meow. Bubble…Gotta go…

Thinks, Inc. is a consulting firm which specializes in Smart Sales Operations. If you’d like for us to come and assess your chaos, drop us a line at

PS The Infrastructure Guy  and Smart Sales Operations are Trademarks of Thinks, Inc.