Chances are, like 95% of other Australian business people, you own a smartphone. Whether this is a brand shiny new state-of-the-art Apple or Android device, or something a few years old, smartphones and tablets have changed the way that most of us work. In particular, how we access data – including our calendars.
For many years employees were given a paper diary at the start of each January. The days of a bulk order of diaries have long gone and now most of us (if we do have a paper diary) are also using an electronic diary such as Outlook or Google to schedule our activities and events. One of the benefits of using a smartphone is on your calendar can go wherever you go. Also, with the alarm features, you’ll never forget upcoming appointments.
Here’s the thing; while the great majority of business people schedule internal and external appointments with others on their calendars, very few employees and managers ever think to reserve time for themselves. In other words, creating an appointment exclusively for themselves to do something important.
During our Time Track (time management productivity training), our trainers conduct across the country; we like to introduce the concept called “time boxing”.
“Timeboxing” is a simple yet highly workable method for reserving time in your online calendar to get things done. After all, why should you only add internal or external meetings onto your calendar, when you could be reserving time at work and outside work for personal commitments.
Let’s say you have a task to do this week that’s going to take you a couple of hours in total and needs to be delivered by Friday afternoon. Rather than try and find time in between your many other activities, block the time off on your calendar now and create a series of meetings with yourself. Perhaps today your reserve 30 minutes. Tomorrow you reserve another 30 minutes. The following day you might only have 20 minutes. By blocking off, or “boxing” time in your calendar, you can visually see these blocks of time, in which you need to close down email, move other tasks off your desk, and focus for that period on that most significant project.
By adding these “time boxes” to your electronic calendar which will synchronise with your favourite calendar app, you’ll also receive visual and audible notifications to prepare for this block of time. One final benefit: when you block off time for yourself, other people on your team won’t be able to request meeting times during the occasions you blocked time for yourself. If they do need to meet with you, they’ll either choose a different block of time or come and talk to you and find out what you’re doing and if they can negotiate a time to meet with you.
So, don’t just lock time off on your calendar for meetings with others. Set at least 30 minutes aside every day for yourself. But make sure you put it on your calendar and synchronise it to your favourite calendar app. It’s one more way you can leverage the power of that handheld device that goes with you everywhere.