If you’re not time blocking your calendar and scheduling “do not disturb” time, then you are killing your productivity by allowing others to control your time. And if you are organizing your workday but not sticking to what you’ve scheduled, then you’re breaking the commitment that you’ve made to your calendar and, therefore, to yourself. It’s the fastest way to further stress and frustration, and you slip back into a schedule controlled by everyone but yourself with no time for getting work done.
Take this scenario for example: You block out time for lunch or for work on that upcoming report. You feel good knowing that you’ll have that block of time later in the day or week. Then a calendar invite comes in for that time and you accept it, telling yourself that you can reschedule that block since you were the one who scheduled it in the first place. Before you know it, you only have a few minutes to inhale your lunch, if you even have time to get lunch, and you stress out the night before your report is due trying to figure out how you’re going to get it done. Instead of finishing during “normal” business hours, you now forgo time spent recharging and disconnecting to get the report done, complaining to yourself and those around you about how many meetings you’re stuck in.
We’ve all been there before and it sucks. We are not only stressed out but upset to be missing time with our friends and family.
Sometimes there is nothing you can do to control these time-consuming meetings, and that’s understandable. If it’s your manager or a priority project that you’re under a deadline for, you don’t want to be so quick to decline the invite or suggest another time. However, if it can wait for another time that you’ve set aside for meetings, then ask for it to be rescheduled. Don’t break the commitment you’ve made to yourself to get your work done , because at the end of the day you’re going to be held accountable for that work, and “not enough time” or “too many meetings” won’t be a viable excuse.
This commitment to your calendar becomes even more important when you’re workshifting, because the primary way of connecting with your team will be through online meetings. You might use social collaboration tools that allow you to connect asynchronously with your team, but real-time collaboration still needs to happen. And when you’re workshifting, the luxury of just stopping by someone’s office for a quick chat on a project is non-existent, meaning you are left to schedule time to talk.
As someone who advocates workshifting and does it approximately 90 percent of the time, either from my home office or a hotel while traveling, I can tell you that I’ve had weeks where I didn’t take control of my calendar, and it quickly filled up with 35-40+ meetings.
So, how can you commit to your calendar and stay in control of your time while still getting through the meetings that are required of you and your team?
- Leave blocks of time available in your calendar for meetings that others can see either through Exchange Server, Google Calendar or Tungle.me.
- If a low-priority calendar invite comes in for a time that you’ve blocked off, suggest another time that works better for both of you.
- Schedule “meeting days” and “work days.” For example, I’m usually in my office on Thursdays, so I try to book back-to-back meetings then with team members who are also in the office. After the first few times of not getting any work done when I was in the office, I realized that it was only causing me more stress. By committing those days to meetings, I’m less stressed when I head home.
- Use a social collaboration tool such as Podio and ensure that your team does as well. Since we acquired Podio and I began using it on a daily basis, I’ve significantly reduced the number of meetings I have. It also makes the meetings that I do have even more productive.
Stop breaking the commitment you’ve made to your calendar and start being more productive.
What say you? Are you guilty of breaking the commitment you’ve made with your calendar?
Photo credit: rohdesign