I have served as the commissioner of my fantasy football league for a decade. I’ve also never won. Perhaps I am a masochist. Or maybe insane. Regardless, I remain in charge of a frustratingly painful organization that requires me to spend hundreds of dollars and hours watching men I will never meet perform a sport I will never play.
Normally, the commissioner position is despised, avoided and disrespected in fantasy leagues. After all, who in their right mind would want to schedule a fantasy draft and collect dues from a mixture of strangers and friends? The position is a three-headed monster: Frustrating, thankless and pro bono. I have, however, learned a lot about management that correlates directly to my job as a young lawyer.
Mastering the (Painful) Art of Efficient Scheduling
Like most young associates, I’m often called on to organize and schedule court hearings, trials and depositions in cases that include multiple attorneys and parties. It was a nightmare … but thanks to my thankless job as fantasy commissioner, I have become a scheduling wiz. It is actually quite simple:
- Never ever ask people for available dates. Never. You are setting yourself up for frustration and tears. Rather, ask the converse. Ask people for dates they are unavailable. It sounds simple, and it is. But trust me, it makes scheduling beyond easy.
- Print out a calendar for the upcoming months. The moment someone informs you that he or she is unavailable, take a red pen and firmly place an “X” on that date or dates. I realize this sounds simple, and it is, but so many smart people mess this up. It is much easier to eliminate unavailable dates than attempting to match available dates. If one person is unavailable, that date is dead.
- Never ever question someone’s unavailability. Asking someone “are you really unavailable on Tuesday” is akin to asking someone to pull your finger. It is an annoying request that results in an unpleasant environment.
- Use definitive and inclusive language. “We must schedule (event) on or before (date). Please provide the dates you are unavailable to attend the (event) during the next eight weeks. If I do not hear from you within 48 hours of this email, you expressly acquiesce to any future date and time selected.” This key language is clear, inclusive and definitive—and shames any person who cannot take 48 seconds to check his or her calendar within a 48-hour period.
I may not know what I’m talking about, but I think you understand.
William Melater is a young associate attorney working at a firm focused on commercial litigation and transactional work. A self-described legal hunter and gatherer, Bill has accumulated a plethora of legal certificates and diplomas—all of which have been appropriately framed and hung behind his desk. Bill has a distaste for emails, suspenders, fake tans, paralegals who cry, sea urchins and attorneys who repeat the phrase “this is my bottom-line offer.” When irked, Bill blogs about his experiences at Attorney at Work.