TO SCHEDULE OR NOT TO SCHEDULE: THAT IS AN INTRIGUING SCHEDULE

Do you schedule your exercise time? Dates with a significant other? Meditation? Thinking time? One to one meetings with your direct reports? Lunch?!

If I had it my way, then I would not have a daily schedule. I enjoy spontaneity and letting my energy dictate where I spend my time. However, with an awesome wife, 4 fun kids, fantastic customers and more ideas than time, I find I must schedule to get things accomplished. What about you? What do you schedule and what do you hope you have time for?

I am coaching a physician who leads a group of physicians who is always double and triple booked. I asked when did he find time to take care of himself, learn new information and have fun. He sheepishly answered almost never. I asked what he would say to his patients who weren’t accomplishing what they need to and he quickly said, “start doing this”. Thus, we started to schedule his work-out times, 1:1’s and even dates with his family members. Did this feel weird at first? Absolutely! However, he has lost about 10 pounds, gets to the gym about 4 days per week and has really connected with his family again. I can hear you saying, yeah but what about his performance at work. I can tell you other people in his organization have noticed and are asking what has changed with him. His attitude is fantastic, his ability to focus and make hard decisions has improved and he is cranking our much better work and loves connecting with his patients.

Is this all do to scheduling? NO!!! The most important first step was mindset shift. He had to stop putting everyone else in front of his own needs. Yes, he had to get a bit selfish to make sure he was able to be the best husband, dad, physician and leader. This was hard and there were excuses for the first couple of months. However, as he started to see success by scheduling these activities in, it got easier to do it more often and his ability to say no to lower level tasks improved as well.

Here are some tips to get you started:

·       Identify you key goals-personal and professional. Put these on the calendar first. This is easier if you look out about 2-3 weeks when starting out. Next week is already packed so it may be hard to start everything then. And yes, you should be scheduling time for personal stuff too. If it is not on the calendar, it probably will not get done.

·       Next, what are some things that you could stop doing or shorten. For example, take a 1 hour meeting down to 45 minutes. Do you still need to meet with every direct report each week? What about the project that just keeps going? Can someone else represent you in the meeting?

·       Schedule some thinking time on the calendar—this will improve your ability to prioritize and work on the big stuff. Also, think about your best times of the day and match your energy with the task. For example, I always have a sinking spell after lunch so I try to avoid tough meetings or conversations then. Friday afternoons are great for cleaning up the week and writing blogs.

·       Put some fun on the calendar. This might be recognizing your team, going out for ice cream with someone or a date with your significant other.

I know this sounds structured but see if it works for you and then make adjustments. Try to review your calendar at least weekly and look to eliminate 3-5 activities to give yourself some time for higher level activities. I believe you can survive without scheduling these activities but I think thriving and having an awesome life is hard without some of this structure. Good luck and let me know some of your best practices.