Are you losing time by overwhelming your co-workers with too many choices? Allow me to explain…
Let’s say you need to set up a meeting for a group of people. You don’t know when they’re available, so you need some options from them in order to compare dates and choose the best one for most people. What do you do? Do you just ask them to send their availability… or do you give them a few selections to choose from?
Many people, in the spirit of giving others the most freedom, would just ask for their availability, without putting (many) limits on it. For example, a friend of mine recently asked for our availability “in the month of August.” WOW – that’s a lot of dates and times to list!
As you can guess, this sometimes causes the opposite reaction from the desired one. Instead of feeling “free” to choose their own dates, people may feel overwhelmed by the task. Without tighter limits, they may be unsure how far out to go and provide too much, overwhelming the requestor with options. Or they may provide too little, and not offer as many as the requestor wanted to receive. Even worse, they may not answer at all because they’re too overwhelmed by the number of dates and times they would have to list and just put the request aside because they don’t have time to answer it.
In the example above, instead of just asking for free dates in August, offering 5 or 6 dates and times from which participants can select their top 3 choices will make it quick and easy for them to respond, make their life easier, and give you a better chance of getting the job done with the first request.
In our high-speed world, sometimes we just need someone to give us a “head start” on things. If we do this, not only will it save time for others, but if we’re trying to get answers, it may just save time for us because it will mean less follow-up on the back end because we’ve provided a little more structure on the front end.