“Time is a created thing. To say ‘I don’t have time’ is like saying, ‘I don’t want to’”. – Lao Tzu
Are you still off and running with the same enthusiasm as you were at the beginning of January? Are you on track to meet your personal and work goals for the year? We all have the same amount of time. It’s not luck or mere circumstance that some people are more productive than others. Your calendar is the equivalent to your checkbook register (or whatever online tool you use to balance your account). Where and how you spend your time is a direct reflection of what is important to you. Is your calendar saying what you want it to about your home and work life? More importantly, how can you change it if it’s not?
- Start by putting what you want to do on your calendar.
Maybe you want to take a vacation to Hawaii this summer. Put it on the calendar. Do you want to be able to see a baseball game in person? Put it on the calendar. Whatever you want to do and however you want to be spending your time goes on the calendar.
- Look at your calendar. It does no good to write down anything if you don’t look at it. So simple. So true.
- Stop living your work life by the day. With so many of us living with our phones in hand it is easy to only look at your calendar one day at a time. Your calendar should be done by the year. Birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, and seasons are all the same time every year. Why aren’t you planning for them? At the very least when you look at the calendar you should be viewing it a week at a time. Adding a dinner meeting on a day when you’re not that busy doesn’t seem like a big deal, that is, until you realize you have just scheduled something on your only free night of the week and you have an early morning meeting the next.
- Schedule for work deadlines. Now that you have personal and home life on the calendar you can concentrate on work. Man or woman, if your home life is not well it can be very difficult to concentrate, be productive and “present” at work. If you don’t believe me just ask those who have to work with you! Set timelines for meeting your goals. Ask for help and collaborate with others whenever possible. Break things down into manageable pieces and then tackle them. When do you find the time to do this? You guessed it….you schedule it on your daily calendar.
- Create boundaries and play with your calendar. Let people know that appointments are needed for those “5 minute” meetings. When someone asks if you’re available don’t be afraid to say “no”. Meeting and productivity scheduled times may change, but you’re ultimately still in control of your calendar. You may have to move things around a lot in the beginning while you figure out what a productive day looks like for you. The key word is “moving”. Moving is different than not doing something at all. So you miss your personal deadline by a week. That’s better than not having it completed, ever. What if you had to push your vacation out an extra month? Would you really be that upset considering you rescheduled in plenty of time with advance notice?
The most common reason people I’ve worked with don’t keep a calendar is that they like to be spontaneous. Feeling constrained and trapped by a calendar they have opted to “wing it” instead. My response, “If you’re so free by this unscheduled life why is there a constant crisis?” You’ve met these people. It’s not that they don’t get things done, it’s that everything that gets done is an emergency and last minute. There is no calm, just a storm.
A calendar is not for taking the fun out of life or to schedule it away. In fact, it’s just the opposite – it is to plan to have fun and “make” free time. Time that you don’t feel guilty for having when you have to go back to work and respond to all the emails and questions of your employees and co-workers. Everyone would have already been prepared and know that you’re going to be out of the office so receiving seven emails from the same person wondering if you received their first email yet is highly unlikely.
Plan to be more than successful. Plan to have fun and enjoy life while you still can!
Melissa Smith is the owner of The Personal Virtual Assistant. Her business is built on establishing what the best needs of her clients are, creating a personal loyalty system for her customers/clients, and providing an invaluable service for them by freeing up their time so they can do what they love to do not what they have to do. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.