For 2022 we are driving home to our team that for all of us to dominate 2022, we must OWN our calendar and be masters at managing our calendar and allowing it to dictate our day and not be reactive and wonder where the day, week, month and even year went. We are responsible, and we are in control. The fact is, the calendar is likely to be both your problem and solution. I put together ways to manage your calendar and get to where you want to go in 2022.
1. Schedule Everything. Most of the time, our team tells me they are great at scheduling meetings and adding them to their calendar but don’t necessarily think of adding their work and to-dos. Forgetting to add a majority of your priorities often leads to procrastination, wasted time, and breaks in the day. The solution to this calendar problem is to make appointments with yourself for everything you need to do. Schedule blocks of time for everything you would like to do and everything you must get done. This way, you have time for the things you’d otherwise not make time for, and you’ll be ready when you indeed are available.
2. Schedule Email Time. Not going to lie, this one is tough for me, but if you are like me and check your email sporadically in the day when they come in, you might not realize how much this breaks your focus. So, how do you stay focused on high-priority items on your to-dos? Schedule it. Yes, this is reverting to #1 on my list. Schedule a few blocks of time on your calendar for reading and responding to emails. Scheduling email time takes a lot of getting used to if you’re a habitual checker every time your inbox dings. You can glance at your incoming mail to ensure you don’t miss something super urgent, but make sure not to get sucked into the email hole unless it is on the calendar.
3. Make Your Calendar Personal. Scheduling everything also means planning things in your personal life too. Maybe you want to have dinner out with your spouse, or you want to unwind in a bubble bath and a book. Schedule this in your calendar too. It might seem a little silly at first, but trust me- it will help you stop letting your calendar control you. When it’s on your calendar, it will be more likely to happen. You’ll soon see you get a lot more done and have a lot more time to do the things you want to do. You aren’t a machine, and you deserve time for yourself. You are worth it.
4. Group Your Activities. Do you feel like you toggle your day between in-person meetings, to Zoom, to a phone call, and back again? Shifting back and forth can put a damper on your productivity mojo. Instead, try to schedule similar items on your agenda together. For example, schedule your in-person meetings back to back or on the same day. Try having a zoom block of time, where you have 20–30 minutes back-to-back scheduled for clients. Make cold calls on a specific day, and end the day with follow-up calls. The idea is to plan similar activities together so your focus stays on point. You can also have success breaking the day up into sections. Morning is for X, the afternoon is for Y, and evening is for Z. Find what works for you and execute.
5. Redefine Your Meeting Time. Have you ever noticed that most people try to book your time in one-hour blocks? Very often, one hour of your time isn’t necessary. The calendar solution is to respond kindly and respectfully by asking if 30 minutes would be sufficient instead. 99% of the time, people will agree to 30 minutes, and you instantly cut the time required to spend on them in half! Another tip: don’t just fill the scheduled time with chit-chat for the sake of taking up the entire scheduled block. If both of you are clear and on the same page, end the meeting early. Time is precious for everyone. If they don’t have additional questions, end the session.
6. Evaluate Regularly. Sometimes one schedule seems like a great idea but doesn’t work for you. Are your priorities getting done? Do you feel in control? Are you wasting time or feeling rushed? It’s never a bad thing to evaluate your calendar and make changes. You want to make progress, not perfection. You’ll start to notice a pattern and either love it or need to change it. That’s okay! I do weekly and monthly evaluations of my calendar. Just remember, nothing is in stone. Do what works for YOU.
Follow the above suggestions, and you will soon be on your way to owning your calendar. You are on your way to being a master manager of your time, and it’s a great time of the year to start. You don’t need to be reactive and watch the days, weeks, months, and years pass. You are in control!
Happy New Year, and may 2022 be your best year yet!