Pruning Your Schedule—Get Ready to Grow Some Time!
You’ve heard it before. Everyone has the same 24 hours in a day, the same 365 days in a year. How do some people seem to get more done? How can we find ways to add to our jammed schedules that mojo-maximizing “white space” we discussed last time?
To get started, here are two areas to work on. Follow these tips and you’ll begin to reclaim your day and free up blocks on your calendar in which you can add 1) planning white space, 2) creative white space, and 3) recovery white space.
Re-evaluate and Reschedule
1) Prune your meetings, conference calls and one-to-one sessions by 20-35 percent.
A. Delegate, or do without:
- Ask yourself: What meetings can others run without me? Who can lead it and would be grateful for the opportunity?
- Ask yourself: What meetings/conference calls do I no longer need to participate in? Who can represent me?
B. Streamline check-ins:
- Make one-to-ones with direct reports shorter and less frequent while still maintaining adequate connection.
- Rather than one full hour, reduce check-ins to 30 minutes.
- Or reduce 30-minute check-ins to 20 minutes.
- Where possible, do some one-to-ones over lunch.
C. Strive for the essence. Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, said, “One of my favorite tricks is to conduct most of my meetings standing up.”
2) Revise your work schedule, then stick to it.
If you have been in the office from 7 am to 6:30 pm, start leaving at 5 pm sharp.
Keep pruning until you get down to an 8-hour day.
Streamline and Simplify
Pruning your schedule to produce added slots for your crucial white space comes down to consistent time management tricks anyone can learn. You’ve probably encountered many of them before — and have let them slide from your grasp. Go back to business basics and be diligent to streamline, simplify, focus and organize.
- Delegate, delegate, delegate.
- Manage social media time. For example, deal with email at set times each day, and stay off Facebook.
- Time box: Give each task a time limit and stick to your deadlines.
- Batch similar tasks together.
- Differentiate between the important and the urgent.
- Dedicate some less essential tasks for “down” or in-between time.
- Interrupt. If a discussion is going too long, diplomatically shut it off.
- Say no a lot. Warren Buffett said “The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything.”
Remember, the goal of pruning ultimately is to create the white space you need to be able to add the planning time, creative time, and relaxation time you need to keep you focused and productive—and of course the goal of that is to achieve a balanced and satisfying life of accomplishments.
So start now. It’s not too soon!