Time Management: Calendarizing Important Work (Tip #7)

Nothing wakes you up more than if you leave a job and then see your replacement come in and do a much better job.

The point here is — to be smart, you need to work on the right things.  Work on important or strategic items that are going to move the organization forward.  And you need an effective workflow system to support you to do this.

After I left my last job, the incumbent who replaced me knew how to work smartly.  She made progress on a number of strategic fronts in a matter of one year.  It was obvious that she knew very well how to push on the right things.

For me, I was using a highly reactionary working style and I was very on top of my email all day long.  As a result, I was responsive and service-oriented, both of which are good qualities, but they are not strategic.

Today, using a much more effective working style, I now schedule time for important work in my calendar and then, yes, I actually do it.  So the most important time management tip I can provide anyone is the value of using your calendar to plan your work.

This approach ensures you get important and strategic work – and not just the urgent work – done.

Furthermore, utilizing your calendar to organize your time has a few other benefits:

– Gives you a picture for how you are spending your time

– Allows you to make an immediate judgment call when someone comes and brings you a giant project:  I was going to work on Project X, but Project Y does seem more important, so I’ll shift things around

– Allows you to “get real” about what you can accomplish in a day or week

– Gives you a platform for negotiating with your manager when your load is heavy – I don’t know how I can fit anything else in this week, can we have a discussion about how we either move some things off my plate or share the load, or re-prioritize everything I have on my list?

– You don’t wake up at night feeling like you have to make lists of items because it’s all captured between your stellar TO-DO list and now your calendar.

– Finally, you actually make progress on strategic and important work because you are intentional about it, you schedule it, and you do it.

Is your important and strategic work getting done?

Joanne Spalton, Senior Consultant