Taking Back Control of Your Calendar

I had an epiphany the other day. I’ve long believed that the number of meetings in your calendar was some kind of function of the size of your organisation and seniority. As a people manager at a company of over 8000 people my calendar gets pretty full on (I dread to think what my boss’ looks like).

I was commenting to my wife while making a drink that I was invited to seven different meetings over the next hour. She rolled her eyes at the ridiculousness of an overpacked calendar and I was about to smile ruefully when something struck me.

Letting meetings pile up and sit as “tentative” is a sign of indecision, a source of stress, and disrespectful to the meeting organisers who have requested my help.

When I have a block of fifty or more meetings a day in my calendar no one looking at it (including me) can actually tell whether I’m busy or not. Good productivity comes from having a plan of what to do with your time, not making it up on the spot.

We need to start owning our calendars not letting manage us!

Calendars should be a tool to keep us organised not a source of stress. So what did I do?

  • Immediately declined any meeting I wasn’t planning on going to with apologies
  • Ensured that I was never supposed to be in more than one place at once
  • Scheduled time to actually do the tasks I needed to do

This turned out to be an extremely therapeutic exercise, one I plan to repeat each week going forward. Time will tell if it leads to less indecision and procrastination!

What are your tips and tricks for managing your working day? How do you deal with excessive meetings?