Are you constantly struggling with an over booked calendar? Do you have a tendency to say yes even though you really mean no? Many of us are brought up with the idea that we are needed and important if we’re busy. And by default, that’s the way many of us live as a result.
Today we are discussing why you want to strive towards clearing your calendar and watch what goes in there.
Problems with the fully booked calendar
It can seem tempting to block your calendar with meetings every week. You get a feeling of being significant, you show people that you are working hard etc. But do you really want your calendar to be cluttered like this? Oftentimes the meetings you attend aren’t even that important.
We have a tendency to schedule meetings with people all the time, but oftentimes the meetings aren’t leading anywhere towards your goals and dreams. The same goes with tasks and errands that aren’t really changing the world for the better. But nevertheless you have to do them.
Problem # 1: Busy = significant
In today’s modern world, time is a scarce resource for many of us. Sometimes we even have a tendency to “brag” about how busy we are. Busy equals important and significant.
Problem # 2: No is a no-no
If you’re an introvert and kind of a people pleaser it can be a struggle saying NO to people. You have to accept all the meeting invitations, right? What would people think of you otherwise? That you’re lazy? That you don’t do your job accurately? But it’s actually very important to be able to say no sometimes. Healthy boundaries is crucial for your health, so saying no is an important skill to learn. So should you say no to everything? Of course not. When do you say no then? See solution #5 below!
Solution # 1: Zen time
Block 60-90 minutes in your calendar every day for intense focus. This time is non-negotiable. It’s written in stone. If someone wants to book a meeting with you this time, you say that you’re already booked. It doesn’t have to be during work hours either. You decide.
In the life changing book Make time – how to focus on what matters every day, Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky discuss the importance of what they call Highlights – a big chunk of time every day dedicated to the thing that matters the most. It can be solving a specific problem at work, but it can also be time spent with your daughter at the park. You decide.
Solution # 2: Big three
This suggestion can be super stressful for some people. “How am I supposed to work effectively if I can only accomplish THREE items on my to-do list? You would be surprised how effective this trick is. Write down the three most important tasks of the day, and sort them by importance. The rule is that you can’t start on anything else before the first task is done. Then you can start working on the second task. When you’re done, you have already achieved the worst things for the day. Now you can add more tasks to your to-do list if you want. But checking off those “shit sandwiches” first thing frees up so much of your mind space that I would highly suggest you do that first thing in the morning.
Solution #3: “POP UPS”
So what is a POP UP, you ask. Glad you asked. POP UPS are all the “busy tasks” that you have to get done during the day, but doesn’t necessarily get you closer to your goal. It can be all sorts of errands and small tasks on your to-do list. If you actually block time for these types of tasks, you won’t run the risk of being too impulsive and checking your email all the time.
Speaking of emails: schedule time twice a day to manage your email, so you can leave work with an empty inbox and a feeling of ease in your mind.
Solution #4: Self care salad bar
If you’ve read my previous blog post about the self care salad bar you know what I’m talking about. The idea is that you put together a list of self care activities that you sprinkle in your calendar throughout the week. It can be small activities such as a walk in nature, a bath etc. You might think that is too rigid to schedule this, but you might be surprised to find how often you skip these important acts of self care. Block time for self care and choose from your menu of self care items that you created.
Solution # 5: The gatekeeper
This trick takes a little practice, but if you implement this strategy little by little, you will get the hang of it pretty soon. It goes like this: If a task or a meeting goes into your calendar, it has to be worth your time and energy. Ask yourself: if I did this task every day, would it lead to a good result in 5 years? If so, feel free to schedule it into your calendar. If not, don’t. Also ask the classic “Konmari”- question: “Does this spark joy?” If you feel drained just by thinking of doing the task, try to make a change somehow. No task is worth your health.
Solution #6: Short & sweet.
There is also an invisible rule that a meeting should last for an hour on average. Why is that? We can easily achieve what we want in 15 minutes. Our attention span is also getting crappier by the minute, so a 60 minutes long meeting will definitely not be productive, at least not the last half hour.
Next time you schedule a meeting, make it 15 minutes long and see what happens. Maybe the attendees feel less stressed out when they get your invitation, and chances are they attend the meeting with a lighter feeling in their hearts. 15 minutes? Anyone can endure that, right? Set the intention that you’re going to achieve as much as you normally do during a 60 minutes meeting. People will get super focused when they know that they only have 15 minutes to discuss the agenda and set an action plan.
Solution #7: The e-mail meeting
If you’re really bold, question why a meeting has to occur. Is it possible that the agenda could be sent out as an email instead? With more and more people working from home it shouldn’t be impossible to skip one or two zoom-meetings and handle the information by email instead. If you’re an introvert like me, meetings are very energy draining, which leads to you having to load your batteries again after the meeting. How time effective is that?
Make Time – how to focus on what matters every day by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky