Use Energy and Impact To Steer Your Calendar

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”  – Annie Dillard

Do you ever stop to think about the value of your TIME?

It is a finite resource. There are only 24 hours in a day. We cannot print more minutes or work harder to earn more time to put in a savings account.

Why are so many of us willing to spend that precious time engaged in work or meeting with people in ways that deplete us of energy and reduce or minimize the impact we can have?

We do not always get a say in how we spend our time at work – particularly if you are in an entry-level role or do not have anyone to whom you can delegate work. However, it’s worth considering how to begin to think more strategically about spending our time and looking for opportunities to negotiate assignments and due dates.

I also realize we don’t always enjoy the work required of us, and there are necessary tasks that don’t fill our souls. My observation is that many leaders are being pulled in multiple directions, all of which are “priorities.” I continue to coach leaders who struggle with this feeling of overwhelm and burnout.

If this is sounding all too familiar, consider these ideas to begin spending time in ways that will keep you charged up and making an impact:

  1. Identify your PURPOSE. What is your WHY?  Some questions to help:
    • What gets you out of bed in the morning?
    • What are you passionate about?
    • What is the aspect of your day you are excited about?
    • What work energizes you?
    • What are you doing when you lose track of time? You are in the ZONE!
  2. Now, articulate your purpose to others. Name it. This can be really helpful in setting expectations and context for how you will make decisions about how you spend your time at work.
    • What meetings are important for you to attend?
    • Which meetings will you send someone else to cover for you?
    • What type of work will you be focused on?
    • What projects and activities might you delegate to others?
  3. Focus on how you spend your time as a way to achieve balance. This is NOT about the amount of time you spend at work vs. personal time. It’s about balancing accomplishment with enjoyment each day.
    • Get something done each day that offers a sense of accomplishment. Don’t think of this as completing a big project…it could be one of the small steps toward completing that project. Maybe it’s successfully conducting a difficult conversation or building a new relationship.
    • Do something each day that you enjoy! It could be something simple, like eating a favorite meal, watching a show/sports event, exercise, time with family/friends. Something you do FOR YOURSELF!
  4. Calendar the activities identified in #3. Take a bit more control of your calendar by blocking out time for important activities. When receiving meeting invites, ask for an agenda before accepting it to confirm your attendance is required. This could be a meeting that someone else on the team could attend instead. It also promotes a good habit of being clear about the purpose of a meeting and considering WHO really needs to participate.

Identifying what energizes and drains you is a great way to be more discerning in how you spend your time. Focusing on the things that energize you results in a more positive impact on your team, the quality and value of your work, and the business overall.

Added bonus – It’s also a way to live a more fulfilling life!

Martha Duesterhoft is a Partner with PeopleResults. Follow her on Twitter @mduesterhoft or connect via email at mduesterhoft@people-results.com. 

Martha Duesterhoft