At last week’s TechCrunch Disrupt, Biz Stone and Evan Williams discussed the struggle of maintaining life balance while building a startup, saying that their solution was “scheduling time with their kids on a calendar.” As strange as that may seem to you,  our schedules have multiple layers - and if it’s not on the calendar, it’s probably not happening.

So, how can we manage our schedule layers - our personal and professional priorities - in a way that makes us accessible, but not so accessible we go crazy?

Traditionally, online scheduling has given people the opportunity to expose their calendar and say, “Here I am, world. Book the time I’ve made available.” This puts the control in the hands of the person wanting to book time, rather than the person making time bookable. We believe that this is the main cause of so many people’s eternally “busy” schedules, which nullifies the intention of having a bookable calendar.

At Book’d, we’ve designed a new system based on the idea of controlled availability, in which control resides predominantly with the person providing bookable time. This person does not expose their calendar to the public. Instead, he or she creates bookable “services” under which they are willing to let people book time (i.e. internal meetings, customer support, wine chat).

The account holder designates all attributes of a service appointment:

  • Duration - How long will the appointment last? What amount of buffer time between appointments do I need to keep from feeling overwhelmed?
  • Location - In what physical location(s) will I offer this service, if any? In what virtual locations? Am I willing to go to the person booking time?
  • Pricing - How much will my time cost the person booking time, if anything?
  • Availability - On what days of the week and between what times am I willing to offer this service?

Here’s what it looks like in practice….

Hypothetically, I’m a startup founder. While I could work 24 hours a day and still not get everything done, I know that my family will suffer in the process. So, I need to better control my availability based on my priorities. My company is a top priority in many circumstances, but so is my family.

Using Book’d, I make the following collections of services available:

My Company Bookables

  • Internal meetings: 20 min, virtual or in the office, $0, MWF between 8 and 11:30 a.m.
  • Client meetings: 30 min, virtual or in the office, $0, MTWR between 8 and 5 p.m.
  • Potential partnership inquiries: 20 min, virtual, $0, M between 2 and 5 p.m.
  • Emergency pow-wows: 15 min, virtual, $0, SMTWRFS between 8 and 8 p.m.

Miscellaneous Bookables

  • Entrepreneurial consulting: 60 min, virtual, $60, F between 12 and 6 p.m.
  • Lunches: 60 min, goes to person, $0, MTW between 12 and 2 p.m.
  • 9-hole golf outings: 120 min, golf course, $0, FS between 9 and 1 p.m.
  • Emergency quality time: 120 min, goes to person, $0, SRFS between 11 and 9 p.m.

For now, the rest of my availability will be designated to work or spend time with my family. I could set up more “Friends & Family Bookables,” but for now, I’m going to attempt to make that happen with the time left. If that doesn’t happen, I hope family members will take the initiative to book lunch or emergency quality time and remind me!

Controlled availability assists you in segmenting your available time based on your priorities, while still making appropriate availability accessible to your contacts. How you implement that with friends, family, colleagues and clients is up to you!