Mastering Your Calendar in Three Easy Steps
Joshua Davidson wrote this article
A quick note before we jump in – this post will only be truly useful for those who can dictate their own schedules (entrepreneurs, creatives, and individuals, like that). For those who have others controlling your schedule the majority of the time, although all three items below can help you immensely, you may not receive the full benefits and perks without going all in. With that said, let’s get started.
I’ve had the great fortune to control my own schedule for over seven years now. Technically speaking, it has been five years since I was in any form of school (high school and university), but still – plenty of time to truly learn how to hack my schedule to be at the top of my game, the most productive possible, all while simultaneously never being burned out.
I’ve shared below the three things that I have learned that I believe anyone can adapt to their own schedules and routines to be more effective. Let’s dive in.
1) Less is always more
You’ve heard the saying above many times in your life, I am sure.
Here is the thing, when it comes to your schedule, it is true, all of it. One of the fundamentals that the 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris tries to communicate, is that most people set up their schedules and tasks to do as much as possible in a given day. This is failed logic. The goal should be to work as smart as possible, as hard as possible, to get the most important things done in a day. Busy work and important work are not the same.
That is why I have divided my schedule into five blocks for each day. The first and last blocks are always dedicated to personal related items, such as sleeping, family time, social time, eating time, and of course – working out. Always spend some time on yourself, no matter how hectic your life may be. Even the most successful people in the world do this. It helps you avoid becoming fatigued, stressed-out, burned-out, or eventually, getting sick. Arguably, these are the most critical times of my day for setting the tone for the day ahead and the day tomorrow.
The other three blocks remaining are all business related and incredibly important. The three blocks are the following – meeting with potential clients, meeting with existing clients, meeting with my team. Though very similar in nature, all three take a different part of the brain to be truly productive and efficient, so I am always grouping everything that falls into these groups into consistent time blocks during the day, handling multiple meetings in a row to maintain full productivity, not having to change my mental focus, and what I honestly do believe, keeping momentum at an all-time high.
It is important to realize that when you subscribe to Less is More, the goal should be to keep your brain focused on only a few key items at a time. A lot of failed schedules often have an individual moving from one task to another, which are completely irrelevant from one another. This can cause the dreaded frustration and burnout that happens to most people. Don’t let it happen to you.
2) Understanding yourself
Following the time-block method as mentioned above, the second step is what might be the most important step, understanding yourself.
You see, I have realized over the past seven years that I hate meetings at the start of my morning. I want to focus on me time, to-do list items, things that don’t require me to be as sociable. It takes me until 10:00 or 11:00 AM to feel ready to talk, focus on hearing and learning about other people, and solving others’ problems. I want to use the early morning hours for myself, getting things done so I do not need to worry about them later in the day, allowing me to feel that I have laid the foundation for a great day ahead, and have nothing else pending on my mind when I begin focusing on others.
Of course, another aspect, to being social, I realize from about 10:00AM-6:00PM, I am at my best. It is when I feel most energetic, most optimized, and most ready to go. It allows me to see a much greater ROI and provide more impactful discussions, rather than before or after my ideal hours. Feeling and acting like a machine, all plays into a major part of being a machine. Never lose your focus.
That also means, after 6:00PM, I am no longer as energetic or interested in social meetings. That doesn’t, in the slightest way, mean that I simply shut down or go back into hermit mode again, but it does mean that I am no longer on my A-Game and that I am better suited for other types of activities. Ultimately, this time, is essential to think critically about the long-term issues, write blog posts such as this and make big decisions. In the evening, a lot fewer people are trying to grab my attention, a lot fewer emails and push notifications come in, therefore, a lot more time can be focused on deep thinking and strategic planning. These are huge items that require my best work too, it’s just about understanding that this is the time I am most effective at it, and I take advantage.
It goes without mentioning, that my routine here doesn’t mean it will work for you. Every single person is different. You might love morning meetings. You might love meetings late at night. You might be a deep thinker during the day when you’re outside. Who knows? It is important to learn about yourself through trial and error, though, using this knowledge to shape your schedule to be the most effective. Once you fully embrace this, your productivity will quickly increase, your happiness will increase, and your energy will stay consistently high throughout the entire day. It’s that simple.
3) Create and stick to a routine
It goes without saying here – all of this is for naught if you don’t stick to it.
Don’t expect to create a new routine to just work after two or three days. It takes weeks, if not months of trial and error before it is perfect. If you’re adapting the strategies above, plan for it to take time, and plan to modify it to your needs as you get started.
At first, a new routine will be a shock to your system. You may even feel less productive at the start. Take time to learn about yourself and see what feels natural, what takes the time to adapt to, what just doesn’t feel right. It doesn’t just happen on day one. Again, I’ve been practicing and perfecting my schedule for over seven years now – five years with complete control. You don’t become a master at it overnight.
Here is the biggest thing. Once you’ve adapted your own schedule, and truly learn what makes you tick, you’ll never go back. You will realize how much more productive you can be, how much more motivated you can be, how much more you can bring to the table for your own benefit, for others, and for meeting your goals – both short-term and long-term. It takes time, and just like anything else, practice makes perfect, but when you do fully create a schedule and routine that works for you – you’ll truly feel the freedom and productivity that very few people can accomplish. It is one of the greatest feelings in the world.