Time Study: How Do I Become More Productive?

I have been doing a little study of the way I run my calendar and how it correlates to my productivity and my energy level.  For the last eight weeks, I have been making notes throughout the week on my calendar relative to my feeling of productivity, how much energy I leave the office with to bring home to my family, and how effective I feel like I am as a coach and leader of my team. This week I looked back at the notes, and my calendar the days I took the notes, and decided to see what I could learn.

Some interesting facts:

  • I average 45 meetings per week.  Roughly 70% of these appointments are one to one coaching/status meetings with individuals, primarily in my marketing and sales team.
  • Although this pace sounds like it would drive most people crazy, it doesn’t stress me out.  It does stress my assistant out (who has to work to squeeze it all in).  This makes me chuckle because although I know maintaining the calendar is stressful, it shouldn’t stress her out more than me.  I am the one who actually has to live it!!
  • The highest number of meetings within a single week over the last eight weeks was 56 (ugh!).  And, that was the worst week of the bunch.  I ended up getting sick that week.  Don’t know if it was due to my over scheduling and lack of energy, or my kids bringing home daycare germs (or likely some combo of the two).  The thing I can say is that I don’t want another week like this any time soon.
  • The weeks that I have around 35 meetings or less, I feel like I am at least twice as effective in helping my team and feel generally happier with my life at home with my family.
  • If I add 30-90 minute breaks throughout the day (between meetings) it helps me a ton in replenishing my energy and creativity.  The best weeks are those where I have a Friday that has at least 2-3 hours of open time to clean up from the week, and a Monday morning with at least an hour of schedule planning time to prep myself.
  • Confirmed….it does take a lot of energy!

One of the more interesting observations during this not-so-scientific study was about how my calendar gives a good lens into my priorities.  My time is allocated on my work calendar where I place my priorities.  In the first two weeks of my study, I realized that I was spending too much time in technology meetings.  Although technology is important, and marketing technology is ever changing, did I really need 5+ hours a week regarding this topic?  Easy answer = no.  So, I adjusted my calendar (and thus my priorities) and changed it to about 1-2 hours a week.  I know that this may seem like a simple realization, but sometimes we get so busy “doing” the calendar that we lose site of “planning” our time.

On the bright side, I learned that I am pretty good at this, likely by necessity.  Ever since I have had kids, my ability to accomplish things in the time windows that I have (such as this 15 minutes I have to finish this blog post!), has ramped significantly.  There is simply more to do than there is time, so I must be productive and decisive.  I actively review my calendar daily looking ahead 3-5 days to make sure my time is scheduled where I want it to be, and where it can produce the most effective results.  I know that this may sound pretty obvious, but so many people on my team (and others I work with), don’t do this effectively.  Because of this lack of planning their time, they get sucked into things on their calendar that have low return on time (ROT – should I brand this?).

So for tonight, as I prep for the week ahead, changing my calendar around to create those 30 minute windows of time in my calendar to build energy and creativity, I figured I would share this with all of you.  I hope that it helps someone else become a little more effective, or at least not stress about what lies ahead.

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