With overloaded calendars that are oftentimes double or triple booked, leaders often admit they have no time to get things done, much less reflect or think strategically. It becomes hard at the end of the day or days later to catch up, decipher action items and perform tasks efficiently.

Calendar management sounds like an operational and boring task to tackle, whereas it is a strategic tool you can leverage effectively yourself or with your assistant. There are key times of year to revisit your structure and September is a good time to ask yourself how your calendar is working for you and where you can make an upgrade.

Time blocking is something many people do and rarely consistently follow. First, identify where and when you think most effectively, and what gives you the most focus to think, plan, and get stuff done. Many people block time on Monday mornings, Friday afternoons or close out each day with some block of time even if it’s ten minutes to prep for the next day. Given many school-age children are virtual, others are building in break times according to kids’ schedules – for lunch, end of the school day, etc.  

  1. Step 1: Ask yourself what you need.
  2. Step 2: Block the time.
  3. Step 3: (The hardest part) Protect the blocks even when requests pour in.

One specific hack: look at key meetings you know will require reflection, strategic thinking and/or have follow-up work and block time following the meeting automatically into your calendar. If your leadership team session is 90 minutes, block 2 hours so you can immediately act while it’s fresh in your mind. 

Remember the 2 keys: Create the blocks and hold yourself accountable to sticking to them. If you have an assistant, have them help you manage other people and especially yourself.

Gisele Garcia Shelley, Executive Coach, Nyack, New York www.theglenbrookgroup.com