Perhaps you are no stranger to the vital role a calendar plays in the lives of business owners, entrepreneurs, and high-performers of all arenas. Everyone has a calendar in their pocket that they can access at any moment. What a tool! Convenient and always there when you need it. It doesn't get much better than that.
...Or does it?
Certified High-Performance Coach, Leigh Wilson, has been an entrepreneur for more than 30 years in various business types. This vast entrepreneurial experience, paired with her decades-long dedication to her Calendar, offers insight into optimizing your Calendar for a more productive day. She shares her top 5 tips to control your Calendar, so it does not run your life. These methods can be applied to your paper planner or digital calendars alike. The key is using these methods and focusing on them long enough to allow them to work.
The highest performers live and die by their calendars. They use it to optimize their daily schedule and ensure they reach their top priorities and deadlines. A true asset, no doubt.
It is good practice to schedule a time to build your calendar out for the year. Leigh typically does this in October, or the beginning of the final quarter of the year, to prepare for the upcoming year. The following tips are what she uses to build her calendar. Hopefully, you can use these tips to increase your productivity and gain clarity on your daily schedule!
It's time to build your calendar out for the year! How exciting!
The first thing Leigh wants you to do is to sit down with your calendar and schedule your vacation time, time away from work for the next twelve months. This can be overwhelming especially for workaholics and overachievers, but please, do not underestimate the value of vacation time and rest. If this is too much for you, try just doing a quarter at a time.
While you are adding vacation time to your calendar, be sure you schedule a long weekend every 90 days. This doesn't have to be a big getaway, just some downtime to allow your mind to have a new focus. Coming back to work with fresh eyes can work wonders so these long weekends are especially helpful for creatives and the entrepreneur looking for a new take.
The hustling entrepreneur knows the dread of that doctor's appointment popping into mind while bustling from one meeting to another in the midst of responding to emails and returning phone calls. One more obligation swirling amongst the many others.
So, let's get ahead of that and avoid the swirl. While you are building your calendar for the year, be sure to add any known personal obligations like doctor appointments, parent/teacher meetings, dental appointments, and so on. If your passport expires soon, calendar that. If you need to register for insurance, get it on the calendar. These are simple, everyday obligations that are easily overlooked but when it comes time to complete these simple things, we forget about them entirely or wind up squeezing these things in where our spa day was supposed to be. Better planning prevents this.
Personal time is more than just personal obligations though. This also means that spa day is on your calendar too as is your kid's soccer game and date night. Your hobbies and passions deserve a spot on your calendar as they are just as important as you meeting that project deadline for work. If you function better after a nature hike on the weekends, that needs to be on your calendar. Weekly happy hour with the crew deserves a spot on your calendar if that is something important to you.
The point is, you create your calendar. You control your day. We will get to the work portion soon, but these are nonnegotiable items for an optimized calendar.
This is the big one! We love to implement this method in our clients' routines.
To use the Done By One Method you to take the top 20% of items/tasks that you do in your world, the ones that make you the most money or are the most productive to you, whether it is personal or business, and schedule those on your calendar so that you are Done by One O'Clock. This way, if the rest of the day falls apart you know you have gotten all of the biggest pieces done that will move your life or business forward.
Of course, depending on when your day starts or what your schedule looks like, you may have a different time frame here. The focus is to make sure you calendar your top 20% of items at the start of your day, to ideally be completed in the first four hours.
This simple but effective practice can really amplify your productivity. For this, you need to block out two to three 50-minute blocks of time during your day. During this time, there are no distractions. Your cell phone is off, you are not watching email, and you have already decided what you are going to do with those 50-minute time blocks. You are going to take a project, that is all you are going to work on for those 50 minutes. At the end of this time block, you are going to take a break. Get up, don't do work, and don't answer emails. Walk around, get a drink of water, do some push-ups, whatever you need to do to clear your brain.
To do two or three of these 50-minute blocks in a day, you will be amazed at the amount of work that you get done in a shorter period of time.
Sometimes we just can't get to those 20% items. Life happens, we get that.
You can erase them, but you cannot replace them without putting them somewhere else on your calendar. Those 20% things still have to happen. Remember, these are the items or tasks that move your business or life forward. These are a must and they cannot go away. If you stick to these rules, you should be able to easily find a time block on your calendar even if you work late or on a weekend to make it up. Let's face it, most of us do anyway, but this provides control over when you work late or which weekend you are stuck at the office.
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