13 scheduling mistakes you’ve been making for years

As we become more accustomed to working remotely and scheduling virtual meetings, there are a series of scheduling mistakes you may be making without even knowing it.

Trying to get a group of people together at the same time is hard enough without having to worry about learning new video software. Or, perhaps, your job involves scheduling times or milestones to complete a customer’s project. 

Whatever your scheduling role, make your job easier by avoiding these 13 scheduling mistakes you’ve been making for years.

1. Failing to clearly define the reason for the meeting

Most of us remember to include the reason for the meeting in the subject line, but too often, the reason is too general.

When you schedule an appointment or project, be sure to clearly define the reason for the meeting and the desired goals and objectives to be met from the meeting.

2. Unrealistic time allotments

One of the most common scheduling mistakes is scheduling either too little or too much time for the meeting.

Detailed meetings with an extensive agenda may require more than an hour but may not need a four-hour block. Use an agenda to stay on track to avoid running long but be sure to give yourself enough time to actively discuss all essential topics.

3. Scheduling important meetings at the worst times

Think of the time when you and your team are the most productive. Usually, this is in the morning between the start of work and the lunch hour. Statistically, the beginning of your day is the most influential and will set the tone for the rest of the day. 

Avoid scheduling important meetings after lunch. This is typically when people become more sluggish and digestion of their food sets in.

4. Forgetting people need to use the restroom – and take breaks

You have a critical presentation to give, and it’s going to take a full three hours. Because you understand the value of time, you only schedule the presentation for three hours and will need to push through the information to get it all in. 

While doing this, many people forget the best practice and need for a ten-minute break every hour. Giving employees time to take a short break allows for greater focus and creativity. In reality, that three-hour block will only allow for about two hours and forty minutes of presentation time if done correctly. 

If the presentation takes a full three hours, be sure to schedule time for at least three and a half hours to allow for breaks.

5. Failing to invite the right people

Are the people you’re scheduling the decision-makers? A common scheduling mistake is failing to understand the proper people to invite. Just because Jim in the IT department is a go-getter and great at his job, he may not have the ability to make any changes to protocols.

In reality, his boss may be the one who should be included in the meeting rather than him. Be sure to include the correct people and decision-makers when you create a scheduled meeting.

6. Forgetting to notify everyone of a schedule change

Creating an initial schedule is usually straightforward and easy to spot. However, if there is a reason to readjust a schedule, not everyone may see the change.

If you need to shift days or times to something you have scheduled, do not rely on your scheduling tool to make the right notifications. Pick up the phone or send a separate email to ensure everyone is aware of the change.

7. Scheduling people without checking availability

Most of the scheduling tools we use will attempt to see if people are available based on their virtual calendars. However, some people still use paper calendars and do not update their virtual calendars.

Sending a preemptive email to determine everyone’s availability is a great way to ensure the old school paper calendar people are also free for your proposed day and time.

8. Not using an agenda to schedule a meeting

Another common scheduling mistake is failing to make an agenda available before the meeting or failing to use an agenda at all.

Agendas require prior planning and preparation but help people stay on track and focused. Meetings and schedules without an agenda can quickly go over time and down tangents that do not need to be discussed.

9. Unrealistic productivity goals

If you routinely schedule jobs and services for customers, you may be pressured to meet unrealistic time frames. Many inexperienced schedulers will give in to customer pressure and schedule project milestones or completions that are not achievable. Curb the scheduling pressure on the front end by setting realistic timelines.

10. Not scheduling time for mistakes and unknowns

Project managers routinely run into situations where the project will be delayed due to material shortages, weather conditions, or employee difficulties.

Schedules should include extra buffers to account for the problems life inevitably throws at us.

11. Over inviting people

When you get into middle management and above, most of your time is filled with meetings. Meetings are also a huge time waster because most of what is discussed in an hour could be solved in ten minutes between two people. Be careful about not inviting people who don’t need to attend a meeting.

12. Scheduling meetings that don’t need to be meetings

In the same vein as over inviting people, scheduling meetings that don’t need to be meetings is a common issue. We all know that one boss who can’t seem to make a decision and needs a meeting for everything.

Avoid formal meetings if possible by having small group discussions. Small informal meetings are often much more productive than formal meetings.

13. Not stacking meetings

Because meetings can be draining, it’s best to spend a day knocking out all the meetings at once.

Scheduling meetings throughout the week can cause unnecessary disruptions to progress and productivity. Meetings are best scheduled all at once to avoid interruptions.