Let me just check my diary…
Time is a valuable resource and those who are hard pressed for it find ways to be as efficient with it as possible.
This is reflected in our habits outside of the work environment, too. Studies have recognised that as consumers, we schedule our social activities to use our time as efficiently as possible; like arranging to meet a friend for coffee or perhaps scheduling exactly what will happen and when, on a sight-seeing city break. We plan our free time in much the same way as we do work, into accurately timed segments, to get the most from this valuable resource.
Although the benefits of scheduling are well established, the downsides of this approach are relatively under researched.
Across thirteen studies, using leisure activities like going to the cinema or meeting for a coffee break, researchers have suggested that scheduling our leisure time, can make the activities we do outside of work feel more like obligations, dampening the excitement and anticipation you feel before the event and limiting the satisfaction you feel after.
So, we shouldn’t plan our free time?
In short, scheduling activities in our free time can reduce the benefits you would otherwise take away from spontaneous experiences. Savvy companies can make use of this premise too, through their perfectly timed marketing. Have you ever received the ‘impromptu’ 17:30 SMS message from Just Eat? Their client base are likely to respond positively to this marketing message because of the time of day it reached them, but they are also more likely to enjoy the experience of ordering in, because they’d not planned it ahead of time. A marketing win-win.
But what about scheduling inside of the work environment?
Scheduling, figuratively, makes the world go round. Businesses run on schedules and managers and their staff work efficiently because of this.
But through adopting more of a rough scheduling approach (agreeing what day will work best to check in with a teammate, without pre-specifying the time) in the situations where it suits your business, you could significantly improve the response you get from your team, the input they give, as well as the satisfaction they feel at the end of the conversation.
If effective productivity is based on doing the right thing, at the right time, for the right reasons and in the right way, then perhaps by moving away from a calendar mindset, your conversations may be more valuable than you may have initially expected.