Calendar Chaos (and how to refocus)

unfocused calendar

I know that we have all read articles and listened to speakers on how to effectively manage our time in this age of 24/7 access to the Internet  providing a constant communication flow within emails, social and professional media such as Facebook, Twitter and Linked In.  I wonder how many of us continue to try and find solutions to better manage our time?

In my corporate position,  I have found over the last few years that the constant influx of emails into my inbox has grown dramatically and it has reached the point that taking one day off easily creates a backlog of hundreds of emails.  With a conservative estimate of spending sixty seconds in touching one email,  we are talking about the need to spend one to two hours just dealing with the backlog as new ones are constantly pouring in… ARGHHHH.

Now let’s tack on several meetings during the day that last anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour… then we need to take some time for “comfort breaks” (as a consultant I know calls them)… those pesky bathroom breaks when nature is calling … then  add in a few impromptu meetings, sidebar conversations… and if you are worth your salt as a leader… taking some time to chat it up with your team to provide a little personal and social interaction… oh, I almost forgot… once in a great while the phone will ring and you need to answer it!

Okay, let’s leave our formal “day job” and move into our personal time when we walk out of our offices (or maybe a few of you do some of these before going into the office): we have family obligations to take care of,  dogs to walk or fish to feed.  We have laundry, lawn work, homework, exercise programs, blogs to write and emails at home to contend with.  It is not surprising that our society has come to depend on pills to wake us up, pills to get us to sleep, and pills to stop us from feeling anxious and/or rid ourselves of depression!

As you may have intuitively surmised from my comments above,  I have been caught in calendar chaos lately and I need to create and commit to a plan so that I can focus and create quality (on a consistent basis) in whatever I am doing.  I thought I would share my plan with you for a few reasons:  First,  if I commit publicly, I am more likely to follow through and secondly,  I am hoping that I will receive some great feedback on what works for you!  Here is my plan:

  1. Re-invent my calendar.  I am looking at my calendar with a different eye (hence why I took the above photo).  Seeing my calendar as a photographic picture opened my eyes to how much I am involved in various meetings, projects and other activities.  I think I may be an over-commitment junkie…
  2. I am going to unsubscribe to all the emails that always get put on the back burner to read.  If it isn’t important enough to read as I am managing my in box,  then it probably isn’t important…
  3. I am going to ask myself on each email that I open: Do I really need to save this?  Am I saving this because I am not trusting something will get done?  Am I saving this because I think I may need to CYA in the future?  If I am saving things because of a lack of trust – I definitely have bigger problems than just my email management.
  4. I am going to schedule in one day each weekend that is not focused on my corporate job or my private coaching business.  It is going to be a day not bogged down by time commitments… a day for me to do whatever it is I want to do and whenever I want to do it.  This is important to me because I tend to be… an over-commitment junkie…
  5. I am going to change up how often I post new blogs.  I started out with a plan to do at least three posts a week but it is frankly too much for me to get accomplished each week.  So I am moving to two days a week (Thursdays and Saturdays because they appear to get the most traffic on my site stats).  I am a great fan of Michael Hyatt  author of Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World.  He recently wrote a blog on creating consistency over quantity to yield better blog traffic.  I am going to try it on this week and hopefully it works!
  6. I am going to outsource some of the activities in my schedule… I am thinking of outsourcing all of the financial record management for home and private business to my husband… because I am pretty sure he has the most competitive rates around!

Last but not least,  my calendar needs to be comprised of at least 90% of the things I love to do.  There are always those tasks, meetings and other requirements in work and life that just need to be handled to keep things flowing smoothly but that are far from my favorite things to do.  I am going to commit to feed my over-commitment junkie habits with love, gratitude, curiosity, optimism and zest!

What are some of the things that you have done to minimize the Calendar Chaos in your life?  I would love to hear some of your ideas on what has worked for you in this “Noisy World”  (as Michael Hyatt calls it).

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