Reflect

You Can’t Buy Time, But You Can Borrow It!

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I have followed a 2 part Calendar Review process for many years now. In a recent blog I shared the first part of this process: my Calendar Gut-Checklist. The Calendar Gut-Checklist is a great way to review and reflect on how I spend my time.

Part 2 of the process is Calendar Re-Visioning. Here is the process I follow when I re-vision my calendar:

Calendar Revisioning

1.      I take the insights gained when I Gut-Checked my calendar, and brainstorm changes I could make to better align my calendar with my Desired Outcomes.

2.      The changes I can implement easily I make immediately.

3.      I look ahead for 6 weeks and determine the other changes I could implement with some planning. I outline the steps I need to take to implement these changes and begin the process of making these larger changes.

4.      I commit to reviewing my progress in 30 days.

 

Why do I look ahead? Because when my calendar is overloaded it takes a while to bring it back into alignment. When I work with executives who are bringing alignment back into their calendars I set the expectation that, with 6 months of intentional effort, they can be delivered to a life and workflow they love. It takes time and consistent effort, but it can be done. Progress is even faster when I work with the entire team to bring the team into Time Alignment. (Check out my upcoming article for more on the Team Time Alignment Process.)

 

To help you get started with your Calendar Revisioning process, here are some key questions you can ask as you brainstorm how to revise your own calendar. With these questions you will have better alignment between your Desired Outcomes and your calendar.

 

 Get Analytical: Calendar Brainstorming Questions

·        Calendar:

o   Do you have adequate time to effectively execute your scope of work?

o   What changes can you make to spend your time more effectively?

o   Do you have time protected in your calendar for focused work each week?

 

·        Priorities:

o   What are your top 3 priorities right now? Does your calendar reflect this?

o   Based on your priorities, what do you need to start doing and stop doing?

 

·        Commitments:

o   Do you have more commitments than your calendar will allow?

o   Which commitments do you need to end in order to effectively execute your top priorities?

**Note: If you are double scheduled you have more commitments than you can handle.

You can never be in two places at once.**

The goal is to do more of the “right” things.

With this goal in mind, here are some Calendar Hacks to get you going.

Get Going: Calendar Hacks

·        When are you most focused? Look ahead in your calendar for a 2-3 hour block of focused time each week. This will be the time slot you assign your complex tasks and projects to in the future.

·        Make a recurring appointment twice daily for processing email and checking phone messages.

·        Make a decision about when you will check and return your text messages.

·        At the end of the week look ahead to the coming week and assign your upcoming tasks a time. 

Everything gets done at a particular moment in time. I hope these tips and tricks help you develop the habit of regularly refining and redesigning your calendar so that your time is well spent, and your life and work are satisfying.

What step will you take today to ensure your time is well spent?

THE LEADERSHIP EQUATION

What causes us to notice and reflect upon both how we behave and how we are responded to by others?

It might be that sinking feeling we have when we walk into a meeting that we’ve prepared for, only to realize that what we are ready for is not what is about to happen.

It could be the frustration we feel when, after many years of successful collaboration on another team, we join a new group only to discover that we can’t seem to fit in, find our role, or figure out how to be successful.

It may be that we have achieved a new level of success, but find that, with that change, we have lost our competitive edge, our confidence, and our camaraderie with colleagues.

Paying attention to how we land on other people; how we make them feel when they are in our presence, is essential if we want to succeed in the long term.

Being a bull in a china shop might get us promoted a few times by people impressed by our bravado, but eventually we will get handed a bill for all the damage we have done.  We ignore the impact of our actions at our own peril.

In my cohorts of leaders who are working to define and refine their executive presence, I encourage them to begin with two simple steps:

1.      Become Aware of your behavior and how your words, actions, silence, and inactions affect the people around you.  Everything we do and don’t do has some kind of impact and the higher we ascend in leadership, the bigger our impact zone becomes.

2.      Be Intentional about your choices:  your words, your tone, your timing, and your approach have various impacts.  Thinking through the effect we want to have on others and then designing our presence to match that desired outcome is worth the time it takes.

So the next time you have a sinking feeling when you walk into a meeting, or find yourself feeling frustrated about your interactions with your team, follow these four steps:

1.      Stop.  Pausing is powerful.  It gives you a moment to respond instead of react.  Next,

2.      Reflect.  What is actually, factually happening?  Who, What, When, Where, Why and How questions are a good place to start.  Then ask yourself, what part of this is fact and what part of this is my interpretation of the facts?  Seek to know the difference. Remember the meaning changes depending on the point of view of the narrator. Try to narrate your stories from the point of view of the people around you.

3.      Imagine.  Get a clear picture in your mind of the effect you want to have.  This allows us to then think: what approach do I want to take to achieve this outcome?  And then: what next step can I take with this person/people?

4.      Act.  Always act with intention.

When I practice these four steps; Stop, Reflect, Imagine, and Act, the interaction usually goes well.  When I feel rushed, or like a victim of circumstance and I don’t take time to act with intention, I miss the mark.  My coaching colleague Scott Eblin says it this way, “Awareness + Intention = Mindfulness.”[i]

What kind of impact do you want to have on the people around you?

How can you design your actions to be in alignment with your desired outcome?

 Asking these questions is the first step towards getting where you want to go.

[i] Scott Eblin, Overworked and Overwhelmed (Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley and Sons) 2014.

CHECK YOUR ALIGNMENT

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!