Mastering Your Time: 5 Easy Steps to Take Control of Your Calendar

As the world continues to become more fast-paced, it is easy to lose control of your time. Have you ever reached the end of what feels like a grueling workday only to realize you didn’t actually accomplish anything? That it was just meeting after meeting after meeting after meeting after meeting? As a recovering corporate executive, I know we all feel like our time isn’t our own, like other people are controlling our calendars and we’re simply reacting to their whims. But it doesn’t have to be this way. You can take control of your calendar by implementing five easy-to-follow steps.

Step 1 to take control of your calendar

Ask yourself, “Do you really need the meeting?” Many of us are under the illusion that we need a meeting for everything. However, for almost half of the meetings we schedule, we could simply pick up the phone or shoot a text for a quick answer. To help you determine whether a meeting is necessary, write the invitation first. If you can’t start with a subject line with an action verb, you shouldn’t have the meeting. If you’re calling a meeting to review something, send it out ahead of time and schedule a 15-minute meeting for questions.

Step 2 Limit the number of people

Invite the least number of people possible. Most of us invite people to meetings defensively. We know that certain people are the ones we need, but we invite others to avoid them feeling left out. This wastes everyone’s time instead of just going directly to the decision-maker. Research has found that the optimal size of a decision-making meeting is around five to eight people.

Step 3 Make meeting shorter

Make your meetings shorter, need a quick team update schedule a standup instead of a sit down meeting. If you want your time back, ditch the hour-long meeting. Instead, schedule 30- and 45-minute meetings. This gives people time to digest, figure out next steps, then take a breath and maybe, I don’t know, go to the bathroom.

Step 4 Say no to other people’s meeting

Say no to other people’s meetings. We’re in the habit of saying yes to every meeting we’re invited to, often out of fear of missing out or ego. A better way to decide is to ask yourself, “Is my opinion absolutely vital to the purpose of this meeting?” If not, just say no. You can delegate the meeting to a high performer or subject matter expert who may be a better choice anyway.

Step 5 to take control of your calendar

The final step is to be ruthless with your time. Give yourself time to do the things you need to in order to feel like a human being. That includes scheduling blocks of uninterrupted time to focus on your own work. If you have a project that’s going to take you 10 hours of really focused time and effort, schedule that time in your calendar. Try putting in “no-fly zones” two hours a day, a few days a week, at whatever time you’re at your most productive.

Finding it difficult to say no? Read the ultimate guide to be a better conversationalist.

In conclusion, you can take control of your calendar by implementing these five easy-to-follow steps. You don’t have to make these changes in a vacuum. Tell people that you’re trying something new and taking control of your calendar. And you do not have to do everything at once. Simply pick one idea and try it. People will not only understand it, but they may also start to implement the same practices. By taking control of your calendar, you’ll find that you have more time to focus on the things that matter most.

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