“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” J. R. R. Tolkien
You can tell a lot about a person by looking at their check book. You can also tell a lot about a person by looking at their calendar.
These two important record keepers can speak to how you value your time and your money. I’m not going to talk about what you do with your money; I do want to talk about what you do with your valuable time. Starting with this question: If someone were to look at your calendar today what would they see? In fact, stop for a moment and look at your calendar.
What do you see?
Client meetings? Planning sessions? Social appointments?
These calendar entries are to be expected. Looking closer, what is on your calendar that was put there for a commitment that is past it’s season? What do you see that feels more like a dread or obligation? And a big one, what needs to be on your calendar, but is oddly missing?
Today, we are going to explore a concept I call “calendar integrity.” Your calendar is a big driver in your business and your life. It is important that it represents the absolute best of you so that you can move through it with ease and integrity.
You may realize that you have not thought much about your calendar until this very moment. That is understandable, however now is as good of a time as any to give it a quick review. Look for ways to restructure or reconfirm that you are planning your time wisely so that you have a realistic and sustainable approach to calendar integrity.
Here is a targeted approach to reviewing your calendar that will help you maximize your time and planning so that your calendar is in alignment with your deepest values and mission.
The targeted approach invites you to look at your calendar from different perspectives with the end goal being a true record of how you want to move through your world.
Targets to Review
Target: Intentional Scheduling
How are you being intentional with the items you put on your calendar? When you have a lot of responsibilities on your plate, it is easy to add items on your calendar without thinking about the bigger picture. When you get a request for a meeting or someone wants a bit of your time, are you adding them to the schedule without much thought? And how much time are you allocating to meetings that are unnecessary? Perhaps a request to meet or to have a bit of your time can be fulfilled with a simple phone call or an email exchange. One way to combat adding unintentional meetings to your calendar is to ask your self a clarifying question, “how can I provide input without sacrificing a large block of time?” And, “is this meeting in line with what I most need to accomplish today or this week?”
Target: Who is In Charge?
When you do participate in a meeting, are you always the one in charge? Keep in mind that if you are consistently in charge of meetings, then you are responsible for the agenda, getting the information out to attendees and making sure action items are advanced after the meeting is over. When asked to participate in a meeting, be mindful of how much you will need to contribute to make the meeting happen. If someone else serves as the lead, you can simply plan to show up and contribute, since the responsibility of outcomes and execution can rest with another party. When scheduling a meeting ask, “who is in charge? “
Target: What is the purpose of a Standing meeting?
Often, when you have a standing meeting on your calendar, the purpose for the meeting changes over time. It may start out as a team development meeting and evolve into what may be a check in, something that can happen in 15 minutes vs. the hour that was originally allocated for the meeting. This is good news. It means that your objective is being met, the team is moving forward, and they may now only need a quick discussion about alignment and progress. If this is the case, you can take back that time and use elsewhere.
Target: What Can You Do with a Mini-Meeting?
It is your time. Imagine taking a 30,000-foot view of your time and your life. What would change if you had intentional mini meetings for building capacity or to inspire your team? The powerful thing about both leadership skills is they don’t require a large amount of time. When it comes to inspiration and capacity building, what impacts people the most? Being seen and heard. Fifteen minutes of presence-based connection will help you leverage your impact with your team and your family.
Target: Cancellations, Reschedules and Misses
You are there but not there at the same time. What appointments do you have on your calendar that you have a hard time keeping? You make the commitment, however when the time comes to meet, other things get in the way and you need to cancel or reschedule. In extreme cases, you may miss the appointment altogether. What if those appointments have outlived their usefulness? What if you cancelled those appointments on purpose with the promise that you will change consistently missed appointments to “as needed” appointments. This way you can let the other person know that you want to remain connected, just on a less formal basis. You gain back time and preserve the relationship.
Target: Avoid scheduling on the fly.
You have probably had the experience of someone who wants to meet with you and makes a request just as you are leaving another meeting. Instead of setting a date and time in the moment, ask them to send an email request. This gives you time to check your calendar and to check your calendar integrity target to see how you want to move forward with a meeting or to even ascertain if a meeting is necessary.
Target: Schedule down time.
While the previous targets focused on what to trim or alleviate from your calendar, this target is about what to add. When are you planning on taking a vacation? Not just one vacation, when are you planning multiple “down time” events so that you can refuel, strengthen relationships with family and step away from the “always on go” button. This is an important point when it comes to your calendar. Overlooking this target often means that the only time you stop is when your body or mind gives out and forces you to stop. That’s counterproductive when it comes to calendar or business integrity. God made us to work and to rest. We need both. If you don’t have time planned to rest on your calendar, perhaps this is the first adjustment to make and a great place to begin! Schedule it with your family and friends – make it stick.
Value Your Time and Your Relationships in All Seasons
“The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.”
– Leo Tolstoy
What other targets would you put in place to help keep your calendar lined up with your deepest values and your big picture mission? Our hope is that doing the targeted calendar integrity work will help move you closer to your big picture goal, give you peace of heart and mind and help you grow your business with impact.
In conclusion, your calendar integrity matters because it’s more than just about your time, it’s about your relationships.
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