Appointment coordination is often one of the most complex challenges faced by many administrative professionals. There are many factors we should consider with each appointment, and let’s face it, we can’t please everyone.
In this article, we will discuss some tips and tricks that will help you establish best practices for appointment coordination and calendar management. Here, you’ll learn how to effectively schedule meetings while suavely addressing the complex logistics, office politics, and deadlines.
Without further ado, let us begin with number one.
1. Make sure you really need a meeting before setting one
Above all, the main principle of appointment coordination is to only set a meeting when you absolutely need one. Do you really need a meeting for a simple approval process? Or would an email exchange do the job? Weigh all the possibilities whether the task could be handled in a faster way rather than a meeting before actually setting an appointment. Remember that your job is to make things more effective, and not the other way around.
2. Estimate the length of each meeting
It’s crucial to set meeting agendas ahead of time and identify what’s the purpose of the meeting. This can help us estimate how long the meeting is going to take, which can not only help with scheduling but also in ensuring participants’ commitment to the appointment. By doing so you can more effectively plan the day to include other appointments.
While in practice it’s going to be very difficult to get all the other participants to stay on track, this can significantly help in improving coordination.
3. Use the right software solution or nothing at all
There are indeed various appointment-setting and scheduling software solutions that are useful, it’s crucial to remember that new users must always learn and adapt to the tool, especially if it’s fairly complex.
If the appointment is only going to involve a fairly few people, then it might not be worth it to use a fancy software tool at all. However, there are intuitive appointment scheduling software and solutions that are very easy to use both for small and large meetings.
Especially for large meetings that will involve a lot of people, Bookeo can act as a central communication hub for all parties involved, which can be a major time-saver rather than sending out huge batches of emails to different people.
4. Provide options
When setting up appointments, it’s better to provide two or more different options to the other party. For example, you can offer the other half of your appointment to pick between three different times that work for you. This can help you save a lot of time rather than going through back-and-forth emails or phone calls when you (or the other party) have to reschedule.
This is especially useful when you are setting appointments with a large group, where having multiple options will ensure at least one option will work with someone.
5. Absolutely avoid double booking
Remember that the whole purpose of appointment coordination is to make sure everything is organized and avoid clashes in the schedule. Double booking is the total opposite of those and can lead to more issues and embarrassment. It is very unprofessional for you to cancel an appointment because you actually have another meeting at the same time.
A tool like Bookeo can significantly help in avoiding double bookings. Yes, there will always be accidents or when your boss suddenly schedules their own meeting, but with a proper scheduling platform in place, you can immediately reschedule before the actual day of the meeting.
6. Consider travel time and traffic
Another crucial consideration for effective appointment planning is to consider and minimize travel time as much as possible. Consider the travel distance and time between meetings, and aim to minimize this time for each.
For example, suggest hosting the meeting at your location or meet halfway. Nowadays, there’s also the option to eliminate in-person meetings altogether by utilizing video conferencing tools like Zoom or Skype.
7. Keep the other parties in the loop
If you have another party scheduling your appointment, for example, if you have an appointment scheduler or the other way around, if you have to schedule your boss’s schedules, then it’s crucial to keep the other party up to date at all times, again, mainly to avoid double bookings.
In such cases, an appointment scheduler platform can allow you, your boss, and other parties to get a synced calendar that is always up-to-date, so we can avoid double bookings and other typical issues when multiple parties are managing one schedule.
8. Limit participants of each meeting
The more people involved in a meeting, the more likely the meeting will drag off schedule, which as we know, can affect the next appointments and the whole schedule. Decide who actually needs to be in each appointment, and you can send out emails to those not invited to update them about the meeting’s results.
For higher-ups, the best approach is to communicate that the meeting isn’t going to be a valuable use of their time and that you’ll make sure they’ll get an update as soon as possible.
9. Schedule preparation and debriefing
For each appointment, schedule time for the necessary preparation before the actual appointment. In most cases scheduling a 15-minute preparation session just before the appointment is sufficient.
At the same time, you might want to schedule time for follow-up tasks after the meeting, at least for a few minutes. This is useful so you’ll have time to complete your meeting notes and update your schedule if necessary.
10. Schedule breaks and timeouts
Everyone needs time to refocus and take a break every now and then. Don’t schedule your (or your boss’s) days so packed so you don’t even have time for a coffee or exercise. Leave some time slots within each day as free time. Even just two 15 to 20-minute slots each day can be extremely helpful so you can recharge your energy.