Time to Make Time
I do my best work and feel my best in general when I have control over my calendar.
If you don’t respect your time, no one will.
It’s not that people want to disrespect you, but if you open the “calendar window”, they will flow in.
And you will end up burnt out.
Disliking work you once enjoyed, and stagnate in your career because you don’t spend time on the non-urgent, yet important things that help you learn, solve business problems and seize game-changing opportunities.
In modern work, your ability to manage time and priorities is essential.
You need a system.
There is no one right system.
You don’t need a perfect system.
Your system will evolve over time.
For illustrative purposes, this was my system over the last year-ish.
I create OKRs for myself which set the tone each quarter and keep me on track over time.
Every week I list out the tasks and big projects I need to accomplish or move forward.
For each todo I block out time on my calendar.
When the time comes, I do it. This might be the hardest part for most people.
I block out regular windows for follow ups and smaller things that pop up.
Throughout the week, I keep track of ideas and new todos that come up but do not have a place in the current week.
On Fridays, I plan out the following week so on Monday morning when I show up at the computer, I know exactly what I need to do.
It’s a good system, but it has drawbacks
It’s time consuming to make a list of priorities and then manually block out time for them.
It doesn’t allow for flexibility so if someone needs to meet with me but my calendar looks like a five-day wall o’ meetings, they either waste time pinging me to see if I can move things around or worse, they avoid reaching out when they need help because they think I am too busy.
It’s easy to ignore my own reminders to eat lunch, take a break or do other important recurring tasks.
If you are managing customer relationships, this gets even more challenging.
I recently discovered Reclaim.ai. It’s a calendar blocking tool that integrates with your work calendar, personal calendar, and Calendly. (This is very much #unsponsored.)
You tell Reclaim what you want to do, by when you need it done, and what regular activities are important to you. The app manages your time accordingly, adapting throughout the day and week as things shift.
It does three key things for me.
It allows me to make room for habits that matter to me (eating lunch, taking walks, engaging with our customers on social media) while keeping them flexible. I don’t have to eat at the same time everyday, but I do need at least 25 minutes between 11-2.
It makes it easy (almost fun) to add todos and automatically block time for them as they come up, in one step.
It keeps my calendar looking as open as possible so others can find time with me because it doesn’t show my solo work time blocks as busy until they get locked in (based on the deadline I set).
For managing meetings with external people, I use Calendly, which lets people outside my company schedule time with me.
You can set up rules in Calendly. For example, you can make it so that people can only book meetings with you on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursday. You can also set meeting duration to be 25 or 45 minutes, instead of 60 minutes. Other options include creating automatic buffers between meetings.
The two apps are helping me feel more in control of my time, while also being flexible.
A few other non-app related practices that help me make time:
When I want to tell someone something, I stop and write it out. Most of the time, I can drop them a note via our project management software or email to avoid interrupting them or scheduling a meeting. You would be surprised at how taking 10-60 minutes to describe a project, task or situation will save you hours… days… down the line.
I follow through. At the end of the day, if you don’t follow through on your plan, no technology will help you. Sometimes I don’t want to do what I said I would do, but I’m usually only 5 minutes away from getting started and finding my groove. More on that trick in Mindset Hacks to Make Room for Fitness.
🙏 Thank you for reading.
📣 I’m finding my groove writing this newsletter. I’ve decided to rotate themes every week cycling through topics related to physical, personal and professional strength. Next week we’ll be back to physical.
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