3 questions to help you manage your schedule and find more time

When you ask people how they are doing, I bet that one of the most common replies you hear is “I’m busy”. We’re all busy. In fact, for many people managing their calendar is a two-step process of intense busyness:

  • Play calendar Tetris. First, you treat your calendar like a game of Tetris where every possible ounce of whitespace has a meeting squeezed in so the puzzle is complete. 
  • Frantically run between meetings. Then you try to live the experience of what that type of calendar means: frantically navigating an endless series of back to back meetings all day, without time for a bio break or unimportant things like eating – things not considered when people play Calendar Tetris.

Busyness does not equal business

The end result is that many of my clients find that they have become weary, tactical and … super busy. When this happens people commonly find they they:

  • Have no time to be strategic
  • Have no time for development 1-on-1 meetings with their team
  • Have no time for the things they would like to do
  • Have to do the work that they have collected in their meetings at night
  • Have to do work for one meeting during another meeting

Break the cycle of busy.

When it’s meeting after meeting after meeting, your calendar begins to happen to you – we need to seize back control and break the cycle. Even before ‘Zoom fatigue’ was a thing, this was a problem. Even before we evolved from working at home, to living at work, with our computer ever-beckoning from the dining room table, this was a problem. So what can you do about it? It’s actually common sense.

Use common sense to create more time.

There are 3 simple questions you can ask yourself before you accept a meeting invitation, to create more time and break the cycle of busy:

  1. Does anybody from my team need to be in this meeting?
  2. Does that person need to be me?
  3. Does this actually need to be a meeting?

Asking these three questions will reduce the number of meetings you have. If you ask these questions and answer them honestly, I bet you can create at least 4 more hours each week in your calendar. Challenge the standing meetings that have been set up but no longer seem to be needed. Challenge the 20-person update meeting where you don’t really learn anything. Challenge the meetings to review the status of projects, initiatives or actions when they can be replaced by a dashboard and specific conversations about the areas of concern.

If a meeting is needed, I challenge you to think about whether you need to be there. If you are already in a meeting with one of your direct reports or your manager, ask yourself why you are doubling up. Do they need both of you there every time?

What would you do with 4 more hours?

I challenge you to look at your calendar for the next two weeks and find 4 hours each week that, hand on heart, you do not really need to be in your calendar. Think about what could be accomplished with 4 hours of calendar real-estate. What would you do with those four more hours?

If you would like to take charge of your own leadership and use a self-directed method of making rapid progress, check out the SupportingLines Cloud. We use a data-driven approach that will inspire and empower you to be a better leader and create a high-performance culture.

Jeff Smith

Jeff Smith

Jeff is the Founder & CEO of SupportingLines. He is also a certified Master Corporate Executive Coach, seasoned C-suite business leader and yoga instructor.

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