What To Do When You’re Triple Booked

You just got triple booked. Your calendar now has Not 1, Not 2, but 3 important meetings all scheduled at the same time.

After several moments of frustration and venting “why me??” it’s time to run through your normal progressions.

Can any of these be…

  • Rescheduled? No.
  • Declined? Not likely.
  • Delegated? Eh. Perhaps. But there’s not enough time to get someone else up to speed. That would require even more meetings. 

So, what do you do?

The only thing we can do. 

Pick One. 

How Do We Choose?

Do you pick the meeting that’s from your boss? (i.e seniority)  How about the invite you accepted first? (i.e timing) Or perhaps the meeting based on one of your key job priorities? (i.e get the irony?)

The answer is yes…to all of them. That’s why we have this problem. Your current thinking won’t get you out of this pickle, not even if you’re Benny the Jet.  

We need a set of timeless prioritization principles to fall back on. 

Prioritization Principles: The 3P’s

I don’t know your business, your role, or what you committed to complete this quarter. 

But I can tell you that this is a framework for making difficult tradeoffs between multiple good options. It can be your North Star. Regardless of where you are on the Globe. 

I call them the 3P’s. 

P1: People 

Prioritize People First. Not just any people. Prioritize your customers and your team. Perhaps you’ve heard the famous quote “you lead people and manage things.” by Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper. And it’s true. Without people to lead, you aren’t a leader. 

“Leaders must either invest a reasonable amount of time attending to fears and feelings of their team or squander an unreasonable amount of time trying to manage ineffective and unproductive behavior.”

Brene Brown

Ask, do any of these meetings require me to attend to the needs of a customer or someone on my team

P2: Process

Prioritize Process Second. A process is defined as “a series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end.” 

Processes define how work gets done, who does it, and the steps necessary to achieve certain predictable outcomes. Sound processes give an organization massive leverage and scalability. Build once, use many. It’s critical to get them right.

Ask, are any of these meetings focused on a process that needs to be reviewed, adjusted, or created? 

P3: Potential

Prioritize Potential Third. This one is harder to quantify, but like another P you’ll know it when you see it. Does this discussion have the potential to drive massive growth for the organization? Deliver a key initiative? 

Ask, does this have the potential to help me achieve my goals? My company’s goals

The “P” I didn’t Prioritize

You may have noticed that I left one “P” out. That would be Profit. While extremely important in business, Profit is an outcome. An outcome that comes as the result of good prioritization and decision-making on the front end.

If you prioritize People, Process, and Potential you will get Profit.

The P3 Pickle

I’ve been triple booked more than once recently. I took a list to my boss and asked him to help me prioritize.

Guess what? We couldn’t do it. We looked at the list and said “all of these initiatives matter.” And that’s when I realized, my list was entirely in P3, the Potential category.

If any of the initiatives were People or Process, they would have been much easier to rank at the top.

Then it hit me…my same thinking wouldn’t get me out of this pickle.  

I realized I hadn’t been prioritizing People or Process. If I had, there would be other leaders who could step in to assist with taking on some of these special projects. 

To work your way out of the prioritization Pickle, go back to the 3P framework. Prioritize People first, Process second, Potential third. 

Still Triple Booked?

The next time you have competing demands on your time, I encourage you to run through this prioritization framework. 

Here’s another P. What could this type of calendar clarity make Possible?

Published by brianhquinn

I write a weekly post to help you grow professionally, elevate your career and Become an "A" Player.