Post By Jennifer Drean, Deliberate Directions Success Strategist
We know life and work often gets a little crazy and sometimes we feel like we are putting out fires and chasing shiny squirrels, especially if we are the owner or visionary of our company. Often when working with clients and with new staff members, I discover a complete lack of time management skills is the root of many woes and inefficiencies they are facing. In this article we are going to talk about the importance of creating a default calendar to prevent chaos, increase your bottom line and peace of mind while really starting to win at life on a consistent basis.
A default calendar, sometimes also known as an ideal calendar, is a way for you to design your life to help you stay focused on the things that you and your company deem most important. If we set the intentions of what we want to accomplish ahead of time, it helps us get more done. When we inevitably get pulled off course, we can get back on track faster because we don’t have to think about what we are supposed to be doing, we already know! This saves us time and mental energy. A lot of my clients think this sounds great but then get stuck on the “how to” portion. Well let’s walk through exactly how to create a default calendar in a few easy steps!
Audit Your Time and List Your Goals
First up, we must do a time audit in one of two ways. If you are already using some sort of calendar system to manage your time, just look back at the last few weeks and write down everything you did in one big list. If you don’t currently have a system for planning your time, I recommend spending the next few weeks writing down everything you do. Don’t change anything yet, just write down how you are spending your time. Remember, this should include everything, even our time wasters like social media and standing by the water cooler to gossip.
Now that you have a big list of all the ways you are spending your time already, you are going to make a second list. List all the activities, interests, passions, etc. that you wish you could be doing. This list may include your personal or business goals, activities that bring personal enjoyment or that you are passionate about. This could even be tasks maybe that should be getting done in your business or at home but that have been getting pushed off due to a perceived lack of time.
Sort Activities and Define Your Work Hours
After you have this huge list of activities that we are already doing or want to do, we need to categorize them! My favorite way to categorize is using Michael Hyatt’s Freedom Compass. The Freedom Compass breaks down all your tasks into four categories: desire, distraction, disinterest, and drudgery.
- Desire is the category where you put items you are both passionate about and proficient in.
- Distraction includes tasks that you are passionate about but not proficient in.
- Disinterest are those things that you are proficient in but not particularly passionate about.
- Drudgery are tasks for which you are neither passionate nor proficient.
A crucial part of designing your life is setting boundaries, particularly around work. As a business owner, there is always work to be done and we can easily work well past a typical 40 hour work week. Before you start filling in the week, it’s important to define which days you will be completely off work. Then let’s take that a step further and define how many hours a week we want to work and determine your start and stop times for work. It should be the rare occasion for you to work longer than these hours if you truly want to live life by design. Respecting these boundaries is the best way to build in the elusive and coveted “work-life balance.”
Fill in the Details
Now that we have the basic framework of our ideal week, let’s start filling in the details. I always tell my clients that the rule is to schedule those things that bring you personal enjoyment and promote your health, first! We often get sucked into the trap of filling in our obligations first and then there will never be time for the things that we love doing, the things that recharge or rejuvenate our personal energy. Remember, personal energy has four dimensions, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual; make sure you hit all four!
Next up is to schedule a minimum of four hours working on your business, not in it! This means we are going to fill in no less than four hours dedicated to our big three professional goals, those daily and weekly tasks that will aid us in achieving our big three quarterly and annual goals. We typically will set these up during time blocks called Power Hours or 90 Minute Sprints (Darren Hardy calls them Jam Sessions). These are dedicated time spots when you are going to close the door, put a sign on it saying when you will be available next and then spend some focused, uninterrupted time just getting done the things that are most important!
Finally, we fill in the remaining work time with the items on our list that we are not not in our Desire category of the Freedom Compass. These would be items in Disinterest, Distraction, or Drudgery categories. What you might find out, is that there isn’t much time left for these. That’s good because these are the things we want to work hard at either eliminating or delegating as fast as possible.
Focus on Your Unique Ability
In most businesses, there are many tasks that are repetitive and others that are not but very important to schedule. Without scheduling them, most businesses will forget or not do important but non-urgent tasks. This can be detrimental when we don’t schedule things like paying our taxes or doing routine maintenance on a vital piece of equipment. But it can also be extremely inefficient when we are trying to improve our profit margins.
When we are working on the things that are in the Desire category, we are working within our Unique Ability and assigning tasks to others that allow them to work in theirs. Ultimately, all of us working within our Unique Ability sets us up for personal and professional success and happiness.
Stay on Track with Your Planning
Here are some additional tips that will be useful when designing your default calendar.
- Schedule a time each week to do a weekly time audit and plan your next week. If you don’t schedule the time to do this weekly, you will quickly fall out of the habit.
- Darren Hardy reminds us to “Eat the Frog,” which is a humorous way of saying do first those things that are maybe awful or you are dreading but that are extremely important. A good example of this would be, doing a cold call that you are dreading because you don’t want to get a no but could be a game changer if you got a yes.
- Finally, don’t forget to schedule time for breaks, flexible time, and time for your commute. Forgetting these could mess up the efficiency and productivity of the rest of your day!
Creating a default calendar or ideal week is a simple and excellent way to design the life of your dreams, both personally and professionally. Mastering time and energy management will help you achieve your goals while helping you to realize your perfect work-life balance.
To learn more about how our brains work and to further manage energy, also check out my article Nurturing Your Success Superpower.