"Please read before scheduling"

2023-03-31 11:53:16 +0200 +0200

A while back, a colleague wrote two brilliant posts time zone trickery, and practicing inconvenience for a more equitable workplace. If you haven’t yet read those posts, really, head over there now and go read them.

One thing that Delphine mentions in her articles is the need to communicate clearly, on all sides, about availability and when it is or isn’t ok to meet. That’s hard to do. One thing I’ve been experimenting with (credit belongs to another colleague from whose calendar I copied it, before making my own adjustments) is a “Please read before scheduling” entry on my calendar.

Please read before scheduling

The entry spans 16:00-23:00 CEST (UTC+1) in my calendar. I’ve iterated on the contents a couple of times, its current text reads:


(If you read this, thank you! Can you please send me a Slack DM to @kostajh? I’m curious whether this is a good way to communicate calendar availability.)

  1. I am in Leipzig, Germany, which is CEST timezone (UTC+1), 9 hours from San Francisco and 6 hours from east coast Americas.
  2. I have two young kids. I often need to pick them up around 15:30/16.00 and am not home until 16.30/17.00; the kids are usually asleep by 21.00. Having meetings between 17.00 and 21.00 is hard, and in my few hours of family time.
  3. For family & personal well-being, I try to limit my calendar to two evenings with meetings per week.
  4. Asynchronous participation: can I send you my input in Phabricator, Slack message or Google Doc? If we must meet in the evening, let’s make a plan for async preparation, so we make the most of our synchronous time.
  5. At 21.00-23.00 I am tired, and I will not be as sharp as someone is at e.g. 12 noon.
  6. Scheduling meetings during my Friday daytime is fine.

If you can’t find a time to meet given the notes above, please just message me and we’ll figure something out!

thanks, Kosta

Unfortunately I have yet to receive a ping from someone acknowledging that they’ve read it. 😅 But… having this calendar entry out there (with the time marked as “busy”) does make me feel more empowered to say “no” or “let’s figure out how to collaborate asynchronously” when someone proposes meeting during family time or late evening.

If you work in a distributed, remote environment and have tips on how to keep your evenings manageable, I’m interested to hear them!