Now the summer vacations are reaching their ends and we are going back to our everyday routines again. And with routines, stress also tends to creep in. The calendar gets completely filled, for several weeks going forward, and weekly meetings, reconciliations and workshops are booked, in a rapid pace. Sometimes you wonder when you will have time to actually work. If you also have a job that is something like mine, meetings usually lead to more tasks on the to-do list, rather than getting something done.
But there are tools to avoid the calendar monster that is lurking around the corner. Here are my tips on how to regain control of your calendar.
Dare to say no to meetings
How many times have you thought “This meeting could have been an email”? The truth is that many companies are a little too generous when it comes to booking meeting and many of these could definitely have been an email or a just a short phone call.
Here it is important to have the courage to say no to meetings that are less important to you. Ask to see the agenda for the meeting, if one is not included in the invitation. Sometimes you can immediately see that this meeting is not for you or that you may only need access to a summary or a list of the decisions made during the meeting. It may take a little practice in the beginning, before you are comfortable with it, but it is important to dare to say no to meetings.
Schedule meetings so that they come after each other
It may sound stressful but there are great benefits to booking appointments so they come one after each other.
It is said that if we are distracted from a task, it takes about 15-20 minutes before we become fully focused on that task again. Imagine if you have meetings spread out throughout the day, what little time you actually get to be fully focused on what you do. By planning meetings so that they are adjacent to each other, you give yourself more time to work undisturbed before or after the meetings.
Another advantage of having meetings booked adjacent to each other is that you are not allowed to delay. All too often, meetings are booked over one hour but take up to an hour and 10 minutes due to poor planning or inefficiency. But if you go into a meeting with the knowledge that you have a new meeting immediately after, you are forced to streamline and manage time better.
However, you should be careful not to book too many meetings in a row as it will be impossible to keep focus and energy up. Also, make it a habit to always book appointments in 55 minutes instead of a full hour, this way you always get a leg brace between the meetings.
Meeting-free time – book time that can not be used for meetings
As I wrote earlier, it takes a long time to regain focus on a task after you have been disturbed or distracted. And yes, meetings are considered a distraction, no matter how important they may be at times.
Try selecting one day a week when you set aside a piece of the day for your own work and make this calendar event recurring one month from now. The time will be even more productive if you also put yourself as busy in your corporate exchange. It does not have to be the whole day, start with 4 hours to begin with. Write down, in the calendar event, which task or tasks you plan to work with. NOTE was realistic! If you write down too many tasks to catch up with, this solution will only create even more stress.
Because the tasks are booked in the calendar, the chances are much greater that you actually sit down and do exactly those tasks, at the allotted time.
Plan time for development and fun tasks
When the autumn darkness sets in and the work tasks accumulates like rain clouds, it is easy to be negatively affected. Stress is bad for your focus, your creativity, your ability to work and for your general health. You will be more efficient, on the whole, if you feel good while doing your job. Therefore, it is also important to set aside time for things that make you feel good. If you are a neat freak like me, this can mean cleaning out folders on the computer or your mailbox from time to time. Maybe there are things in your work you want to develop and get better at? Most of the time you can find free lessons on youtube or book a webinar that you can go to.
By scheduling time for your own development or tasks that make you feel extra good, you ensure that the work continues to be fun and developing, even when it is most stressful.