This week I tried something new in my scheduling at work. I blocked out all morning hours on my calendar between 7:30 and noon to work on major, newer initiatives. There is always a much longer list of tasks to get done than can be done, but the issue that was starting to bother me was the feeling that my days were more and more dominated by the emails, calls, messages and unplanned conversations initiated by others than they were by major accomplishments I want to achieve. The obvious problem is that allowing my schedule to be dominated by others leaves no time to get the big picture, important things done – ground that needs to be taken in order to look back at the end of the year and say “This is how I made a significant difference.”
So I turned off instant messaging, refused new meeting requests in those blocked hours, let the phone calls go to voice mail, refused to go chasing instantaneously after every shiny new email that came in as soon as it arrived, and instead jotted down a very short list of the more important things I needed to get done. Then I spent the morning and sometimes longer making sure I made very good progress on those items before resuming my other daily activities or responding to others’ requests.
The end result? I just completed the most productive week I’ve had at work in months. I still have about 30 emails in my inbox to handle which I will likely take care of this weekend in front of the boob tube. Still, ground was broken on some items that have been on the back burner for way too long, and some items on the list were checked off as complete.
My calendar at least through the end of June will show that same blocked out time daily. I expect it to be a very productive month.
Leap year lesson #146 is Take control of your schedule.