Today, being “busy” often equates to being important, making a full schedule a must. As an individual, however, having a full schedule means that you are often spending more time talking than actually doing your job, and burnout is virtually inevitable. Rather than blocking out your entire week with bogus events because another meeting may be your demise, here are guidelines on setting a reasonable schedule for yourself, while maintaining transparency with clients and colleagues alike:
Organize Your Schedule with Boundaries
Our calendars can easily be hijacked by meetings and other productive-in-moderation activities, so try this personal productivity assessment.
Name the total number of hours you want to spend on professional activities each week. Then, think of your schedule for both professional and personal activities in percentages. What percentage of time should you spend in internal meetings? Client meetings? Professionally-related social events? Personal social events? At the gym? Consider the return you get from each (i.e. professional development, personal fulfillment, stronger relationships, a healthier body).
Then, try to organize your schedule accordingly. For instance, let’s say you decide your professional week should consist of 40 hours, with up to 20% of that time valuably spent in internal meetings. You should spend no more than 8 hours in meetings the following week.
It will take tweaking over time and there will be occasional exceptions, but overall, it will allow you to opt out of unproductive events with sound reasoning. Just because you have time in your schedule doesn’t mean you have time for another meeting!
You cannot opt out of every meeting request (even if you’d love to!). But you also don’t need to expose every open hour in your life through Tungle.me, a shared Google Calendar, or another platform for potential calendar hits. Controlled availability allows people to book time with you, while also ensuring that the time for such events has been previously designated by you.
Controlled availability centers around creating availability on a per-item basis. Using the example above, if you’ve determined that eight hours of internal meetings are productive, designate that you are open for “internal meetings” on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., giving people some flexibility to find a time that works well for them, too. If an exception is needed, they’ll contact you.
Such per-item availability can be made available through personal scheduling platforms like Book’d, which allow people to book time with you on a per-item basis in seconds.
Foursquare and Facebook Check-Ins are Not Mandatory
Your circle of influence only knows where you are if you make that information available. Regardless of the joy of receiving another foursquare badge, being “off the grid” is not the same as lacking transparency, and it sometimes leads to a much more productive afternoon.
Think of being off the grid as shutting your office door (if you have one). You’re accomplishing things without being disturbed. When the door is open – or when you’re checking in to places – you’re effectively making yourself available.
Save the check-ins for when you want people to know where you are. Even if you think checking into Starbucks should be a sign you’re working off the grid there, your colleagues may think otherwise.
Emily Eldridge is the CEO of Book’d, the clever online booking and scheduling engine coming to market in Fall 2012, co-Founder of The Agency Post, an international marketing online publication, and also leads other entrepreneurial endeavors in the strategic communications and technology industries. She is a member of the Young Entrepreneur Council and a managing director of the Missouri chapter of Girls In Tech.