Suffering from “Missed Appointment” Syndrome? 6 Problems You Might Have, with 6 Convenient Cures
Do you repeatedly change, cancel, or (worst of all) miss appointments? These symptoms could mean you need a better time management system. But if you already have a great system and you still miss appointments, then your problem might just be a bad scheduling habit or two.
Each kind of bad habit demands a different solution. So, to help you recover from your particular ailment, we’ve listed 6 possible diagnoses and their cures. Refer to this list whenever you find yourself falling behind on appointments.
Symptom: Missed appointments.
Diagnosis #1: Multiple calendars. You aren’t Michael J. Fox in Back to the Future. There is only one of you. So why keep more than one calendar?
Cure: Your calendar is your time-budgeting tool, so you must use one and only one calendar. Otherwise, you may book yourself twice. (Exception: You can have sub-calendars for specific times of the day, like work, so work time is only scheduled in your work calendar.)
Diagnosis #2: Unrealistic scheduling. This includes scheduled appointments too close together, scheduling too much for a specific time period, leaving out buffer time between appointments, committing yourself to too many activities, or not assigning enough time for an appointment.
Cure: Look at the big picture. Before you commit yourself, look at your schedule for the week. Be honest with yourself: do you have time to drive to and from that meeting, and still make your doctor’s check-up at 4 p.m.? Could that assignment take longer? Don’t count on the best case scenario! There is great peace in admitting that you’re not a time-traveler and can’t do everything in one day.
Diagnosis #3: You’re scheduling tasks for the wrong times. Perhaps you’re scheduling that phone call when it’s their dinner time, or you’re trying to squeeze in one last meeting too close to a holiday.
Cure: Take 5 seconds to look ahead. Look at the calendar and your planner for conflicts, then schedule things when people are available, when you will be free, and when the appointment is appropriate.
Diagnosis #4: You’re fighting certain unalterable priorities of scheduling. These include sleep, eating, and essential routines like showering and dressing.
Cure: Separate wants from needs, and honor the needs first. Face the fact that skipping lunch and chronic late arrivals to meetings affect your health, increase stress, and impact other appointments. Maybe most important of all is sleep. When you impact your bedtime or miss sleep you have to pay it back later–with interest (extra sleep or fatigue).
Diagnosis #5: You’re avoiding it. You could be avoiding a certain task, or speaking with a specific person, or dreading an overwhelming issue that may be discussed at a meeting.
Cure: Admit that you are avoiding it, figure out why, and address that issue. There are a number of reasons for procrastination (these will all be discussed soon in another article). However, procrastination usually comes from a surprising source: not identifying the correct next step for your project. If you get the cart before the horse, you’re going to feel a lot of natural resistance. Figure out the real next step and schedule that. Example: not “talk to Joan” but “Ask Bob how to tell Joan about the issue.”
Diagnosis #6: It isn’t really important, after all! You’re rescheduling or canceling because the task in question isn’t all that important!
Cure: This should be easy: If it isn’t important, cancel it. Don’t you have something better–or more fun–to do?
Make the commitment to always honor your appointments. Without that, you’re not likely to get much done or be considered reliable. But even then, if and when you find yourself struggling, look at the list above and figure out which diagnoses match your problem. Then apply the cures. Your prognosis will be excellent!