CHAPTER FOUR: BLOCK OUT TIME PROACTIVELY
In This Chapter:
-How to control your calendar
-How to create a schedule that works for you
-Our example Productivity Calendar template
Your calendar shouldn’t be an open season free for all of appointments. Each of us have a special cadence in our day that involves times when we’re most productive, time we want for personal reasons and time when we’re least productive. These are often the same times day in and day out — so why not create a calendar template that aligns your scheduling with your lifestyle?
But wait, I can’t control my Calendar!
It’s true, life throws lots of stuff at us daily. Our client calls for an immediate meeting. Our one co-worker strangely schedules meetings at stupid early times in the morning. We’re called upon to leave town and attend Wizard School at Hogwarts. We get it.
The reality though is most people don’t create a set of guidelines around their calendar to begin with, so ultimately things just fall where they may. Even if you can’t stick to it all the time, building a Calendar Template is a great way to start creating order out of the chaos of random meetings.
Create Calendar Template “Blocks”
A Calendar Template is what your “ideal week” looks like. It’s the target you want every week to start with and what you (or your assistant) will do everything possible to work toward. Each “Block” within the template represents how you want to spend your time throughout the day. For example:
- High Productivity Time. We all have a couple hours of the day where we are most alert, most productive. That may be all of two hours each day, but man it’s an important two hours. The first thing you want to isolate is your high productivity time. Maybe it’s after the gym, or early in the morning, or at 2 in the morning. Regardless, you want to make sure nothing runs over those slots because you can’t manufacture that energy and focus at any other time.
- Personal Time. For most busy professionals “personal time” is what’s left over when everything else is factored in. This never ends well. By blocking off a specific amount of personal time you get a few huge benefits. First, you can feel good knowing that you have that time to do what’s important to you — whether it’s hitting the gym or playing with your kid. As importantly, you know that if that time is blocked out ahead of time, you’ve already committed it, meaning it’s not interfering with your work which is what usually eats it up to begin with.
- Low Productivity Time. You love to eat a large dinner portion lasagna wrapped in Taco Bell shells dipped in ranch sauce every day for lunch. While it gives you a killer six pack it also puts you in nappy nap time every day from around 1p — 2p. Should you stop eating that? Of course not! But you should definitely block out time each day that is Low Productivity Time to work on stuff that just doesn’t require much energy.
- Meeting Time. Building in a window for meetings each day helps you mentally prepare for the break that meetings cause each day the way a set lunch time helps you prepare for a break at noon each day. The more you can stack your meetings within a fixed period of time each day the better you’ll be able to optimize the rest of your calendar.
These are just a starting point, and it doesn’t have to be super detailed, but simply laying out your day and applying a few of these blocks to portions of your day will go for miles in helping you create a more structured day that aligns with what you care about and what matters to you.
As importantly, this is invaluable information for your assistant who would prefer to help you do the things you actually want to do versus randomly sending you in every direction at once.
Create a schedule for the times you work best during the day — and stick with it. You will be more productive, and be able to accomplish more throughout the day.
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