Time is the one resource that we cannot readily get more of. Alan Weiss always says that you can make another dollar, but you cannot make another minute. Time is of the essence, especially for executives. There are only so many work hours in the day, and you want to make the biggest impact on your team and your company.
However, I won’t go into simple time management techniques, as I’ve described in the past. In this article, I want to help you make a paradigm shift from reporting to your calendar to taking ownership of it. Right now, you—like most of your peers—are enslaved to your calendar. It is not a service, but something you serve. The calendar tells you what you need to do, and you listen. The notification lights up your phone screen, and you shuffle along to the next conference room or fire up your Zoom call.
You’ve probably heard that our email inbox is terrible, as it is essentially a todo list that anyone in the world can add items to. The calendar is even worse. Anyone in your company can send you an invite and not just add a todo item. They also decide when and how long it’s going to take. What do we say to the god of time sinks? Not today.
Your time is yours. You should prioritize it to comply with your goals and objectives. Rather than defaulting to having a wide-open calendar, set your initial position to be more favorable for you. While executives do a significant amount of their work in meetings, you still need to have time to think, plan, and handle your own work. You cannot let that be postponed indefinitely or until matters become urgent.
Take ownership of your time and make the time to do what is most important for maximizing your value and impact:
- Create office hours. There’s nothing wrong with protecting your mornings for quiet thinking time if you discovered that’s when you are most productive.
- Embrace asynchronicity. Teach those you work closely with to write down their asks and arguments. You don’t have to have a meeting for every single thing. One well-written email can save hours of meetings.
- Delegate. Just because someone asked you to be at a meeting, it doesn’t mean that’s the right thing to do.
- Be protective of your time. If you feel like you are drowning, or do not have enough time to do the critical stuff—stop. Don’t do yourself and your team a disservice. You have to get your things in order before you can help your team.
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