People have interesting relationships with their calendars, I’ve noticed. My informal study of this reveals that it tends to go in one of two directions—
- Those who proactively and consistently control everything which goes on their calendar, or…
- Those who allow their calendars to be controlled by others.
If you’re in the first camp, this post probably isn’t for you.
For my people in category #2, let’s talk.
Controlling your calendar is a mindset.
If all you were looking for were simple techniques for managing the logistics of your calendar, here are three:
- Take that “to do” list and break it down into blocks of time. Schedule “appointments” to do each item on the list. Think through each one carefully in order to predict with accuracy how long each one will take.
- Find and maintain clarity about deadlines. Sounds simple enough, but often there are other tasks or contributions from other people which can impact your deadlines. Evaluating each task on your calendar against the bigger picture to ensure you’ve allowed sufficient time and space can make the difference between achieving your goal and being late to the party.
- Schedule weekly reflection time. I know some leaders who take one hour per week, and some who block a full day once a month, and some who do both. There’s no “right” or “wrong” when it comes to how much time you need—only you can accurately assess that. Just get it on the calendar. Reflection time usually involves evaluating the week prior (what went well to be built upon, what didn’t go well/as planned, lessons learned). Then plan the coming week accordingly.
But is that really it? If it is, good luck out there! Let us know how it goes.
If it’s not, let’s talk about the mindset part of calendar control.
What do you believe at a fundamental level about who controls your calendar? Most people will say, “I do”. But do you believe that deep down? Because many of us don’t act like it. And if your walk does not equal your talk, you have a credibility problem.
Let’s talk about meeting requests for a moment. We work with a handful of companies where declining a meeting request is practically taboo. It’s just part of the company culture to accept. That’s a problem. If you’re not evaluating each meeting request before accepting it, you’re doing yourself and everyone else a huge disservice. Here are a few questions to ask yourself before hitting “accept” or “decline”.
- Why have I been invited to this meeting? Is it out of “leave no one out” inclusivity? Do you have a role? Will you lend some expertise? Is there a decision being made of which you want to be a part?
- Is this meeting a good use of my time? Will I contribute something valuable? Will I get something valuable out of it?
- How does this meeting help me advance further in my overall goals? This is a big one. We can waste a LOT of time in meetings that serve other people’s purposes but don’t help us make progress on our goals. Eyes on the prize. If you can’t see how the meeting will allow you to progress in the areas you have as priorities, you shouldn’t be going. The connection should be clear.
We’re just scratching the surface here. Mindset is something which must be cultivated and practiced over time. With these practical ways in which you can identify your own mindset about your calendar, you’ve got a starting point.
Stay tuned—we’ll take a deeper dive in the coming weeks. In the meantime, share your thoughts, ideas, experiences and questions with us anytime. Stay safe out there, and remember to always be kind.