If you could magically insert nine extra hours into your week, would you want to know how? Whenever I work with an executive, I say, "Show me your calendar,” and what I'm looking for is open space. But inevitably what I see is a really bad game of Tetris gone wrong: meeting after meeting after meeting, double and triple booked. It’s a mess, and it exhausts me just to look at it! Sound familiar?
With a few simple steps, you can gain control over the calendar chaos, and emerge with time to use productively. Here’s how:
1. Action, not words. I was working with an executive team and we had just uncovered how the whole executive team could get back an extra nine hours each and every week when I noticed there was a beautifully framed set of guidelines for running effective meetings up on the conference room wall. When I pointed it out, the divisional president said: “Oh yes, they have been there for years, but our meetings are still ridiculously inefficient.” We solved that in one discussion with the executive team. Use theThoughtfully Ruthless Meaningful Meeting Guide.
2. Start with business results. Ask yourself if each day your time and energy is spent driving profit, revenue, and customer satisfaction goals or are you actually spending your time differently than you intend? Look back on the last three months and compare what you actually did to where ideally you want to be spending your time; then make changes fast.
3. Don’t let meetings control you. Stop automatically accepting every meeting. Ask what the purpose is, and question whether you need to attend personally or can you delegate it to someone on your team? Then ask your team to give you feedback about the meetings they attend. Ask where they want you involved and where they don’t. You may be surprised just how much they are willing to take from your calendar to theirs.
4. Ask your executive admin. Are you making the most of whoever manages your calendar? They have the greatest insight into the way you spend your time. Ask for their input and give them clear instructions what to accept, decline, or delegate on your behalf.
5. Schedule your to-do list into your calendar. When I sit down with leaders and ask to see their to-do lists, it’s usually 50 lines long, and more than half of the items have been on the list for three or more weeks. Unless you put your to-do list into your calendar and schedule time for action, it’s highly unlikely to happen—or you will do it in obscure hours of the day.
Open your calendar right now and block off time to evaluate your calendar. Those extra free hours are there waiting for you to take back for you to use as you choose.
Dedicated to growing your business,