I write a lot about you being the only person who can create your future. That with a vision of what’s possible and with intention, you can achieve what once may have seemed impossible to you. My clients often say… But you should see my calendar? I’m crazy busy. There is so much going on. I feel out of control. Many of you flip open your computer or tap the calendar icon on your phone to see what the week looks like. Moving from one hour to the next. The meeting reminder popups feel like playing 'Whack-A-Mole'. This is what happens when you let your calendar lead your day. What does it look like for you to lead with your calendar? Consider thinking about the calendar not as a place to hold space for meetings, but a place to create the future you want. You can increase productivity and create your future when you see your calendar as an engine, and not a meeting repository. Some of my client’s greatest success has come leveraging their calendar to prioritize what they want most.
Here's an exercise to help you create what you want most:
Go back a couple of weeks in your calendar and take a look where you spent your time. Create categories of your time (client meetings, partnership development, client outreach, strategy, marketing, sales, exercise, errands).
Now, print out a blank calendar week or draw a calendar on a sheet of paper. Fill it in to reflect your typical week based on your categories. Give each category a color to help you visualize what your week looked like.
Then, create your ideal week. If you could spend the time doing what you love and achieving your goals, what would it look like? Do you need new categories? Here's a category to consider: procrastination (read more here). Take the new and the original categories and use the color coding system to fill in a blank calendar week. Make sure the ideal week includes time for family and exercise. Your ideal week will reflect how you want to spend your time if you were spending your time on what you want most for your life and business.
Take a look at both calendars and ask yourself what needs to change? What’s possible for you if you were able to move from the typical week to the ideal week? What would be different for you? Write that down.
Open your calendar to next week, and see what you can move, pull-in and change to help you get closer to your ideal week. For every meeting or important event, book prep time. Being prepared will have you in control and showing up on you’re A game.
Too many of us show up to meetings without thought behind the outcomes we want. We all have walked away from meetings thinking we've just wasted an hour of our lives. If you are prepping ahead of time to create the outcomes you want, time will not be wasted. We also default to the 60 minute meeting. What about doing it in 30 minutes? Taking ownership of your calendar means rethinking when and with whom you have meetings with.
Begin to build each week by building it at least a week in advance to create and put your priorities in action. Calendar your priorities first. Time block space for creating the things you want in the future. Yup, calendar it in: Time to Create or time to write or time to plan.
Time block your To-Dos. I hate To-Do lists as much as I dislike the word busy. If it is important, why not schedule time for it on your calendar? If you have to call in a prescription refill, why not put it in at 9:50am? If it is important, it needs to be on your calendar.
Paste your color-coded ideal calendar somewhere visible so each day you are reminded of the life you want to create. And then go create it.
Don't leave your calendar up to chance.
Instead, begin leading your calendar to create the future you want. You will feel more in control and focused on achieving those big dreams of yours.
Want to read another article on becoming more productive?: 'Getting Shit Done'.