How Accessible is Too Accessible?

erwinbacikI’ve been testing out apps that help other people get in touch with me or schedule time on my calendar for a call, demo or meeting. And while I’m blown away by the efficiencies that these applications are affording me, I’m also on the fence about this kind of accessibility. I’m used to living my life online, so it isn’t a problem of online access. But now the tools I’m using channel online access into offline access. Is that a good thing?

Some people have personal assistants scheduling their days. I use a combination of TimeDriver and TimeBridge right now. With TimeDriver, the online personal appointment scheduler, I can create Schedule Books, which are effectively discrete “mini calendars,” or carefully selected portions of my full workday calendar, that I assign to a given type of meeting or call.

For example, if you want to schedule a demo for me to review your application for WebWorkerDaily, you could use my Product Demos link. If you wanted to schedule a half-hour meeting with me at South by Southwest this March to demo your product or be interviewed by me, then you’d use this link. I also have a “let’s Hang Out at SXSW” Schedule Book for friends I want to make sure I see while I’m there. And I have a Schedule Book for my new women’s business podcast to record phone interviews. Each link reveals a discrete number of time slots, and my availability is dependent on my actual Google Calendar (s goog) availabilities, so if I end up booking time with a client, it automatically removes those time options from TimeDriver’s Schedule Books.

TimeDriver notifies me by email about any schedule additions and inserts them into my Google Calendar. So far, it has been working wonders for me because I don’t have to go back and forth over and over to find a compatible time with people who want to meet with me, and I can designate specific days of the week and specific hours of the day to, say, demos or recorded phone interviews.

I recently reviewed TimeBridge’s app, and I immediately saw a gap in my scheduling solutions: I wanted to be able to give certain people full access to my calendar to schedule something with me, but didn’t want to share my Google Calendar with them because they just don’t need that much information on a consistent basis. I also really liked the elegance of this calendar-sharing application. TimeDriver still feels like a bit clunky on the interface but the utility is good.

Since I reviewed, I’ve already had three meetings scheduled through it, and there’s nothing about it I don’t like so far. However, I found that on the side of the person who wants to schedule times it’s not as easy to use as it could be. For example, one person scheduled an hour time slot even though we both knew the call would be half an hour. It just wasn’t clear to them as a new user how to specify a shorter time block.

As my time is more and more in demand for my business and more and more in demand for my home life (three-year-old, husband), I find that I need a work/life manager. While I’ve been working with a personal assistant, right now I’m still not comfortable using an assistant to handle my scheduling. I still appreciate the more personal touch, and even though using TimeDriver and TimeBridge can be a little geeky, I think it gives people the impressions that a) I’m very busy, and my time is at a premium; and b) I care enough to connect with them that I’ll put them in control of the scheduling so we can find something that works for us both.

Am I wrong about opening these “controlled” and secure calendaring options to others? And shouldn’t I be limiting the number of calls or meetings I have a day? Because I sure do feel overloaded. Maybe I am making myself too accessible. Last year, I was only able to carve out a 4-6 hour workday and could never get anything done. This year, I’ve rearranged a few things, spent a little more money on daycare, and have eked out almost a 7-hour workday, and yet I still find I don’t have enough time in the day. I don’t want to expand my workday hours any further yet still want to be productive. All these calls and meetings getting on my calendar are becoming a burden. And that doesn’t sound like a good thing to me.

So what do you think? How accessible is too accessible? And how do you handle your accessibility?

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