If you are a professional who lives on planet Earth in 2014, then you’re well acquainted with that special brand of awful called scheduling email chains.

It starts with a, “We should totally catch up soon!” moves forward with a, “How about the second week of a month far away?” and 19 emails later, wraps up with an actual date and time on the calendar. In particularly bad scheduling email chains, I think more time is spent finding time to catch up than actually catching up.

After one too many of these, I’ve decided to try something new. When I know for sure that there will be a next meeting (or a next coffee, drinks, or lunch), I make sure to schedule it in person before leaving. A group of college friends who catch up every few months? Scheduled before we leave the table. A great touch-base with a mentor? Next one is on the calendar before we part ways.

So far, it’s been night and day. I’ve seen the biggest payoff, in both professional and personal settings, with groups. As soon as more than two calendars are in play, having a quick in-person conversation is a million times easier than an asynchronous email chain, in which you always have the stragglers who answer so late that everyone’s availability has changed and you have to start all over again. And a noticeable bonus has been that everyone is feeling great from the time you’ve just spent together, so willpower to make a time work is at an all-time high.

Moral of the story? Sometimes skipping email altogether and doing some good, old-fashioned in-person scheduling saves the day.

Photo of mailbox courtesy of Shutterstock.

Updated 6/19/2020