His schedule was booked with appointments from 8-5.  It was printed in black and white on the table between us.

He told me, “I have no time.”

The fact of the matter was that he had lots of time:  the same 168 hours a week all of us have.  It was how the time was being spent that created problems.

“If you schedule appointments all day, when do you get the work done?” I asked. “When do you work on the projects these people are asking for you to accomplish?”

Therein lies the problem for most of us.  We privilege in our calendars the activities we most enjoy.  We undertake the aspect of our work that most enlivens us.

But what happens to the aspects of our work we dislike?

What do we do when we have something to accomplish that we don’t believe others will value?

In other words, does everything get on the calendar?

There is an antidote to over-scheduling.  I call it actual-scheduling.

In actual-scheduling, we calendar not only the people but also the tasks that go with them.

If you are over-scheduled and want to start actual-scheduling, here are three tips for getting ahead instead of falling behind:

1.      Assign your tasks a time.

Once the task arrives in your inbox, or the project has been assigned to you in the meeting, schedule that task or project a time.  Nothing is accomplished without an allotted time.

An amazing thing happens when you plan your tasks:  your mind stops worrying about when something is going to get done because we know.  We scheduled it.

2.      Honor your calendar.

Once you have assigned your tasks a time, treat these appointments the same way you would treat an appointment with a colleague or a client.  Accomplish what needs to be done in the time allotted.

3.      Get ahead of schedule.

If your schedule is booked solid with appointments, like my client’s was when we met, look for the white space in the calendar (it might not be until next month or next quarter, but find the white space!) and block out time to think, plan and catch up.  It took a while for your schedule to get as full as it is and it will take some time to realign your schedule so that your calendar accurately reflects the scope of work you have to accomplish. 


As the New Year begins, it is natural to have an eye on the future:  what will it take to get to the next level?  Did I accomplish what I intended in the year that has passed?  Were the last 365 days well spent?  What do I intend to do with the next 366 days (yes, 2016 is a leap year)?

As you launch into 2016, start with some routine maintenance:  take some time to Check Your Alignment.

The turning of a new year is a natural time to stop and reflect on the direction of your life.  What are your Desired Outcomes:  those things that are most significant to you, those aims that you truly long to accomplish?

The Check Your Alignment premise is simple:  we need to check and see if where we are headed is where we want to go!  If our current actions are out of alignment with our Desired Outcomes, we are missing a key ingredient for our success: enthusiasm.

When we can see that our current activity is in alignment with our ultimate Desired Outcomes, it is easier to retain and renew our enthusiasm for our work.  Our enthusiasm is essential for our success because it is our enthusiasm that primes our perseverance and fuels our discipline.

People often seek the support of an executive coach as a way to maintain accountability.  I always begin by asking people what they really want because, more often than not, the person sitting across from me is focused on the next project or the “biggest problem”.  This is natural, but it is not helpful.  Focusing on the problems we see on the horizon or the next goal we want to achieve robs us of the wellspring of our success:  our enthusiasm.  When we focus on what we ultimately want, on what we most deeply desire, and move forward from that perspective toward the next task, we are in full possession of our greatest assets: our energy and our enthusiasm.

Here are 4 key questions to consider to Check Your Alignment and to keep your enthusiasm on track in 2016:

·       What accomplishment from last year are you most proud of?

·       What work do you find most rewarding?

·       What aspects of your work bring you the most excitement?

·       What are the one or two things in your week you relish doing?

Armed with the answers to these questions, you have a roadmap to replenish and renew your enthusiasm for the work you do.  May your 2016 be the brightest year yet!