“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 checkbook…and one’s 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?
What do you see?
Client meetings? Planning sessions? Social appointments?
These calendar entries are to be expected. What do you see that feels more like a dread, obligation or past its season? 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, with ease and integrity.
Have you thought about your calendar much? 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. Observe for a realistic and sustainable approach to calendar integrity and 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? It is easy to add more without considering the bigger picture, when you have a lot of responsibilities. Do you book meetings 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?
Are you always the one in charge at meetings? If you are consistently in charge of meetings, then you are responsible for the agenda. Plus, the meeting leader needs to get the information out to attendees and making sure action items are advanced after the meeting is over. When you have a role in a meeting, plan for your contribution to make the meeting happen. Whereas, you can simply show up and contribute when someone else leads, since the responsibility of outcomes and execution are from the leader. When scheduling a meeting ask, “who is in charge? “
Target: What is the purpose of a Standing meeting?
The purpose of a standing meeting can change 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 it 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. For team inspiration and capacity building, being seen and heard matters most. Fifteen minutes of presence-based connection will help you leverage your impact with your team and your family.
Target: Cancellations, Reschedules and Misses
What appointments do you have on your calendar that you have a hard time keeping? You commit and then you need to cancel, reschedule or miss the appointment altogether. What if those appointments have outlived their usefulness? What if you canceled 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.
For a meeting request, ask them to send an email. 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.
The previous targets focused on what to trim from your calendar. This target is what to add. Are you planning vacations or “downtime” events to refuel, strengthen relationships with family and step away from the “always on go” button? If you wait too long, your body or mind may give out and force you to stop. Maxed-out schedules are counterproductive to calendar and 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 Relationships in All Seasons
“The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.”
– Leo Tolstoy
What other targets would you put in place? We hope that doing this work will help move you closer to your big picture goal. Plus, give you peace of heart and mind and help you grow your business with impact.
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