This year, I added buffers to most of the events on my calendar. So, if a meeting is supposed to start at 10 and it will take me 15 minutes to get there, I list its start time on my calendar at 9:45. Likewise, if I’m running a meeting that’s supposed to end at 11, but I want to be sure to write down some notes after it, I list the meeting’s end time on my calendar as 11:15. These 15 minute segments are called buffers, and they are supposed to ensure realistic transitions between events in a calendar.
Sounds great, right? The only problem is that my buffers haven’t survived their collision with reality. They are the first things I trim when I have to fit in another meeting, another commitment, another task. They are the first things to go when I’m trying to jam something into my calendar.
Which is kind of goofy when you really think about it. Removing buffers is like removing oil from your car. Eventually, the machine parts that keep the car running will grind against one another, creating friction, and ultimately, damage. Then the car breaks down when you’re in the middle of Iowa, and all you can do is stare at the corn fields and hope for a miracle.
In my experience, that usually happens to teachers and school administrators around February, long past the point when all buffers have been ground down to nothing.