April 21, 2021

The World Doesn’t Need Just Another Calendar.

Jeremy Bell
Jeremy Bell
Founder & CEO

The single most important tool we use to manage our time is the calendar. Nearly every device you own has one, and it’s likely something that you use multiple times a day, every day. We spend an excessive amount of energy monitoring, planning, and managing our time. But modern calendars were never built for the modern workplace.

Google Calendar and Microsoft Outlook are the current workplace standard, and their approach to collaboration is transparency — they make it possible for you to see your coworkers’ calendars. Beyond the obvious privacy implications, what they present is a mirage.

When viewing someone’s calendar, we’re led to believe that emptiness means availability. But what we see is an incomplete picture because we rarely record everything in our calendars. From personal events to undocumented to-dos, our calendars are not a comprehensive record of how we will be spending our time.

The scheduling back-and-forth we do over email is us struggling to reconcile this tension. Calendly, X.ai, Vimcal, Calendso, Doodle, and countless other scheduling tools were all created to address these shortcomings. But none of them are actually solving the problem.

They present an illusion of someone’s true availability and force you to make a scheduling decision without understanding the contextual priorities of any pre-existing event. The information asymmetry means our only option is to slot meetings between what’s already scheduled.

As a result, we manage our time on a first-come-first-served basis. Our schedules are shaped by the order in which events were added and not by the priority of the events themselves.

These challenges compound because as our calendars fill, the scheduling options decrease. Finding a time that works for all parties becomes increasingly complex, and that complexity grows exponentially with each additional attendee.

None of the current solutions truly help us become more productive, calm, or happy because they all rely on a paradigm that dates back to when we used paper calendars. We don’t need faster or prettier versions of the same old thing. What we need is a new kind of calendar that help us, and the people we’re working with, achieve Schedule / Priority Fit.

Schedule / Priority Fit

On the surface, Schedule / Priority Fit is a straightforward concept — determine what matters most to you, then add it to your calendar in the order of priority. But it’s really an optimization of supply and demand — the most efficient allocation of your available time put towards the most important demands for your attention.

We like to believe our calendars are a reflection of our true priorities, but they’re really an incomplete list of what we intend to spend time on. While some people do schedule every hour of every day, it’s incredibly uncommon.

Based on our data, the average person only has only 20% of their time accounted for in their calendar. Of that scheduled time, 26% goes towards solo meetings, to-dos, or reminders. Recurring meetings automatically take 67%. And because it’s so easy for coworkers to book time in your schedule, 54% is booked by someone else.

With the majority of our schedules booked by others, our perception of what’s essential is distorted, as our calendars become a hybrid of our priorities mixed with the priorities of many other people.

Back-to-back meetings without a break. Fragmented days that disrupt deep work. Frequent context-shifting. Working in the evening because you were in meetings all day — These are all examples of how other people have imposed their priorities on your schedule.

Solving this problem requires us to rethink how we put things into our calendars and our methods for moving them to accommodate changes in priorities.

Adaptive Scheduling

When we schedule something in our current calendars, what we’re doing is defining several static rules that govern when it will happen. It’s very specific; This event is happening on this day, at this time, in this location, with these people. But given the pace of change within the modern workplace, this specificity becomes a problem because our schedules quickly become filled with static entries.

Recurring meetings are particularly problematic because they reproduce, often indefinitely, without any consideration for our future priorities.

When something is scheduled, its relative importance is usually high. But as time passes, priorities often evolve — new things come up, undocumented things get remembered, demands for your time change to reflect the moment.

When this happens, we struggle to adapt our schedules to these changing priorities because it’s too complicated, if not impossible, to reschedule things on short notice. So we end up in back-to-back-to-back meetings, with a lack of focus time, working late, and increasingly stressed because we don’t have enough time to get everything done.

Adaptive Scheduling is a new technology that we’re developing at Mayday that approaches this problem differently.

Instead of setting a set of static rules for each calendar entry, you define a series of parameters. For instance, you can schedule a meeting for “this week”or “anytime after lunch.” You can book recurring events “once a month” or “three times a quarter.”

Mayday will then schedule the event at a time that works best within the supplied parameters, while also considering your working hours, routines, and the software’s understanding of how you want to spend your time.

If you’ve invited other guests, Mayday will also consider their respective priorities, picking a time that achieves Schedule / Priority Fit for everyone involved. And should you need to reschedule a meeting, the software will select another time that fits within the original parameters instead of forcing you to renegotiate for another time that works for everyone.

Success at work, the strength of our relationships, and our health are tremendously affected by how we choose to spend our time every day. And we’ve completely lost our ability to manage it.

We’ve reached a point where the demands on our time have become increasingly demanding. And the more interconnected we’ve become, the more the needs from other people compete with our own individual goals and aspirations.

At Mayday, our mission is to coordinate the world’s time by reimagining the calendar as a helpful assistant. We’re building empathetic productivity software, so we can all achieve Schedule / Priority Fit.

Time is our most valuable asset, but it’s been too easily lost, stolen, and misspent for too long.

Our goal is to fix that.