Managing meeting cancellations

I need help. Apparently I’m a moron at managing meeting cancellations (I hope I’m not the only one). Consider two scenarios:

Scenario #1

I have regular 1-1 meetings with about half a dozen people. Because I can be a control freak, I sent out the original ongoing invitation for most of them. Being conscientious, when one of these teammates is out of the office (training class, vacation, whatever), they send me a meeting cancellation.

You’re thinking, “What’s the problem here exactly?”, right? Well, when I receive this cancellation the meeting doesn’t get removed from my calendar so when the day and time come up, I assume we’re still having it. Or, worse, I’ll get one of these cancellations two meetings from now and I’ll remember it in my head (a GTD no-no) and erroneously assume we aren’t meeting that week.

Unfortunately for me, I most commonly do this with my boss and it causes me to either be annoyed because I think I’m being stood up or that I miss a meeting entirely, but mostly it’s my own stupidity.

Scenario #2

This is the flip side of Scenario 1, only with larger meetings not 1-1’s. I’m really good about updating Outlook with my time off way before I schedule it. What I’m really lousy at is sending out meeting cancellations for all regularly occurring meetings that take place while I’m gone.

The result is that when I get back and I’m faced with post-vacation email, I’ll see half a dozen pinging me to join a meeting I won’t be attending because I’m on Space Mountain.

What to do?

Other than “Quit being a moron and remember to deal with this properly” is there any advice out there? What do others do in these situations?


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3 Responses to “Managing meeting cancellations”

  1. lucidTipster Says:

    Couple of ideas that can help…

    Scenario #1
    1. Setup an Outlook rule so meeting responses – either acceptance or denials are filed into a particular folder. Then set aside 5 mins at the start of the day to look at the responses for meeting and adjust your calendar accordingly.

    2. Prior to every meeting open the meeting invite and look at the Accepted/Tentative/Declined list.

    Of course this works only when your teammates send out declines which you have indicated they do.

    Scenario #2
    No easy way out – need to go in and decline meetings that you are unable to attend while you are out. You mention that you update Outlook with your time off – do you just mark Out of Office or also send out an info meeting invite to all team members you regularly work with? Sending a meeting invite and marking the time as free puts something on their Outlook calendar informing them that you are going to be out. Lastly for meeting organizers who ping you – your Out of Office replies will let the meeting organizer know that you are on Space Mountain 🙂

    Hope this helps


  2. Roy Tock Says:

    I suggest using an additional means of keeping track of meetings.

    Your coworkers will insist on your using Outlook, so you can’t stop using it. It sounds like Outlook isn’t effective at managing these important occasions for you, though, and it’s important to fix that problem before you lose some kind of significant opportunity, or before you’re generally perceived to be sloppy with regard to appointment times.

    I’ve converted over to using Google Calendar as my primary means to manage personal and business events. I can easily access it anywhere there is a browser; in particular, I can access it anywhere I access Outlook. Further, I’ve configured it to send me SMS meeting reminders, which has removed my need for a separate mobile device for reminders.

    You don’t have to use Google Calendar. Maybe a simple, small paper calendar would work better for you. Personally, I need something that will interrupt me, so some kind of mobile device integration is essential for me. Also, I prefer to limit the things I carry; in real life, I’ve got two toddlers to manage on top of anything else I choose to carry.

  3. links for 2008-05-21 | the markfr ditherings Says:

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