It’s very rare in this day in age for someone to operate using a single calendar account; most of us have a personal calendar account, a work calendar account, maybe a family account, perhaps a side hustle/consultancy calendar and so on. In most cases, due to a regular 9-to-5 work schedule, these are mutually exclusive: personal appointments are set outside of working hours and stay in the personal calendar, work meetings are during 9-to-5 and stay in the work calendar and for those with a side hustle, we try to schedule those outside working hours too. Obviously with the mental notice that we have to ensure every time we book something outside working hours we have to check the personal calendar and the side hustle calendar to ensure we don’t set up a consultancy meeting and such to collide with a dentist appointment etc. For a person with a not-so-busy personal schedule and side hustle schedule, the weekly calendar looks something like the image shown above and as such managing your calendar can be easily done manually, via a multitude of methods (we talked about one in this blog post about inviting all of your accounts to each event in all your calendars); this blog post proposes another one involving blocking time manually. If your schedule looks like the one depicted here, this might be the solution for you, so read on.
This method, as indicated above, relies on manually adding blocks of time whenever you set a meeting or event in one of your calendar, “shadowing” the original event in all the calendars, such as that time appears as blocked (“busy”) in each of your calendar, thus acting as a gating factor for double-bookings and meeting conflicts. To explain this method, let’s start with a simple case, where you, the user, juggles only 2 calendars: a work one and a personal one. In this scenario, in most cases, things are pretty simple: your work calendar account has events typically from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday, and your personal calendar account contains personal entries outside of that. You keep them separate because you don’t want the work to “bleed” into your personal time and you don’t want your work to see the details of your personal appointments of course! So your calendars to start with look like this:
Nothing suprising here: your work meetings appear in your work calendar accounts, which your work colleagues have access to and can book meetings with you as needed, and your personal calendar account is separate and contain all the personal appointments you put yourself there and ensure your personal appointments are outside the 9am-5pm working hours.
However, if you look closely, you notice a couple of issues with this:
- Tuesday, the VP of marketing booked some time to you from 4-5pm but at 5pm on the dot you have a dentist appointment! Unless your dentist is next door to your office, you risk missing your dentist appointment. Even worse, if the VP of Marketing (busy person, no doubt!) decides to slide that meeting by 30 minutes, from 4:30-5:30pm, you now have to move the dentist appointment! Or reach out to the VP and ask them to reschedule on a different day — which they might find it difficult to do since they re-arranged their calendar for the week “safe” in the knowledge that you had availability from 5-5:30pm on Tuesday. (Yes, it’s outside your usual office hours, but let’s face it, you enjoy your work and you’re often to be found working later than 5pm so having one meeting spill over 5pm is not really an issue.)
- Thursday, one of your team member scheduled a 1:1 with you from 4:30-5pm, but at 6pm you have been invited to your best friend’s Tina’s 30th birthday party and it would be extremely rude to turn up late, so you have marked it in your calendar from 5pm to ensure you leave work at 5pm on the dot to get there in time. If your 1:1 runs by a few minutes on Thursday you run the risk of missing the cake and champagne!
In both of these cases, the whole context is only in your head and your calendar — your colleagues are totally unaware of the disruptions their meeting requests might cause! So to share some of that context with your colleagues and prevent these situations, you block manually time on Tuesday and Thursday in your work calendar, “shadowing” the events in your personal calendar: simply create events in your work calendar and mark them as “busy” :
Now if your VP of Marketing wants to move that meeting he will see in your calendar that your 5-6pm timeslot is blocked, so they will try to either find time in your calendar on a different day or reconsider rescheduling the meeting with you. And this is without you and them exchanging any emails/text/etc; just simply making your availability on that day very clear!
Similarly, your team mate who books time with you on Thursday, seeing you are busy after 5pm might look for a different date/time to talk to you first or, even better, will walk into the meeting knowing you have a hard stop at 5pm — and all of this without exchanging any messages with you, all through making your availability clear to everyone.
You can imagine how it all goes from here: every event in your personal account will get a “shadow” time block in your work calendar so that your availability is made clear to your work colleagues (who only have access to your work calendar). This will prevent those annoying situations where you have to reach out to a colleague to inform them you can’t take a meeting with them because a conflict (although nothing shows in your work calendar!), typically followed by a series of to-and-fro emails trying to find the next best time for both parties.
This method is simple (every time you add an appointment in your personal calendar you have to make sure you add a marker / “shadow” event in your work calendar during the same date/time interval) yet effective (your work colleagues see right away when you have other appointments, without actually knowing — or having to know — the details behind those), and it protects you from double-bookings and calendar conflicts. Also, it requires only a couple of extra minutes for every personal appointment, which is a small overload for a regular person.
There is however a downside to this: if any of the personal appointments move, you have to go and move the markers in your work calendar also. For example if your dentist calls to reschedule your appointment to Wednesday, you update the appointment in your personal calendar but you also have to go and update the marker in your work calendar. If this doesn’t happen often, it’s a small inconvenience, easy to deal with by anyone.
Also, this method doesn’t scale well for multiple calendars and multiple events — and even more so if the events tend to be moved around quite a lot: add a family calendar in the above mix and a side hustle and every appointment now requires you to create / update markers in 3 calendars. If you are a consultant, with a few clients, each with its own calendar account, this starts getting out of hand very quickly — especially if the clients reschedule meetings quite often (which is a reality in the fast-moving world we live in nowadays). In such cases, the time you need to allocate for keeping your availability clear across all these calendars grows pretty quickly, and you have to start allocating 30+ minutes of your time daily to manage these.
OR… let a platform like Calendrz manage them for you! That’s exactly what Calendrz do: blocks time across all your calendars, without sharing any of the details of the original appointment. Give it a try, it’s free!