In Part I, we reviewed how crucial time management is to eliminating that feeling of overwhelm.

Now, let’s discuss your calendar.

Number 3.

Learn to use and love your calendar. Do you use one? Or do you avoid it?

Here’s another gem when it comes to getting sh** done:

Use your calendar – for everything!

Yes. EVERYTHING.

Schedule everything that happens in your life at work, social events, recurring events (like taking the bins out at home), gym sessions, lunch, processing email ─ EVERYTHING.

Here’s another list to help you get some ideas around what to schedule:
• Meetings
• Lunch
• Email processing
• Project work
• Exercise
• Dinner
• Social events
• Sport
• Walking your dog
• Doing personal admin
• Practising getting organised

Every-bloody-thing!

It might sound geeky but it works.

Why? Because it’s a fact that we only have 24 hours each day, 7 days per week, 365 days a year.

This is our system for time and it’s not going anywhere so use it to your advantage.

If you choose not to use a calendar, then you’re actually choosing overwhelm. You’re choosing to go against your ‘why’.

A calendar doesn’t lie. It’s an accountability tool! A structure to help you.

A calendar doesn’t think it can do more than is possible. That’s what our minds do. You can’t trust your mind. It’s not designed to be an accurate calendar; it’s designed to survive sabre-toothed tigers, create and thrive!

Where most people go wrong is they actually believe they can do more in the time they have. We’re blessed with minds that can think of thousands of things every minute … but can only do one thing at a time. A calendar helps overcome this blessing.

When you start scheduling everything, you’ll start to work in reality, and that’s what you need to help you stay super-organised so you can get sh** done that matters most to you in you life (once you have clarity).

If you’ve never done this, it will not be easy. You’ll encounter resistance. You may find it boring and feel like it’s restricting your natural flair. These are reasonable emotions and, if you experience them, that’s a good sign because it equals change!

Change ─ transformation ─ isn’t smooth. So if you’re feeling discomfort as you read this or put this into practice, that’s a normal reaction.

Have you ever exercised to get stronger, fitter, or just to feel better? Imagine yourself running on a treadmill right now, going at a healthy jog, and you’re around 30 minutes in, sweat dripping off your face, legs tired, breathing heavily. Does it feel good when you’re in the midst of hardcore exercise? NO! It feels hard, uncomfortable, challenging, not normal. But when you’ve pushed through and done the work, how do you feel? Happier, fitter, stronger, healthier – all round better!

This is no different. Think of it as your mind gym!

Use your calendar, no excuses. Here are a few tips on how to maximise the effectiveness of this process:

1. Never schedule blocks of time that are more than 90 minutes of work. If you have a 3-hour project (180 minutes) split it into two, with a 15-minute gap between the two. Research shows that we can only focus for 90 minutes at best. You need a natural break to recover (much like when lifting weights in the gym; you have 3-5 sets or 10 reps, not 30-50 reps. The same applies here).

2. Theme your days around specific areas to maximise efficiency. For example, don’t try and do high-level strategic work on your business, or deep personal development work, the same day you have a to-do list of ‘urgent but not important’ technical tasks. Have a ‘strategic day’, a ‘management day’, a ‘sales’ day, a ‘finance day’, etc. Batch similar items up on the relevant days.

3. Never schedule more than 75% of your day ─ MAX! Sometimes things take a little longer, or you may have situation arise you weren’t expecting, Having a buffer gives you the wiggle room you might need to help manage the unexpected.

4. Never schedule back-to-back appointments. Always leave a 5-, 10- or preferably 15-minute ‘change break’ between appointments. This allows you to switch gears, have a screen break, go to the bathroom, and get into the right mindset before each meeting so you can beat your best. If your meetings are back to back, you’re always going to be chasing your tail. Set yourself up to succeed, not fail.

5. Make appointments with yourself to do your most important projects. This also relates to the email processing part earlier. If you have an email that comes in that’s going to take more than two minutes to respond to properly, then schedule time on your calendar because it’s related to a project. The same applies for any projects you’re working on. Make time and space in your calendar so you are in touch with reality by seeing how much space you have each week (via your calendar).

6. Have a weekly check-in with yourself where you sit down with your calendar and project management system. Go through and allocate space for the following week on a Friday afternoon, scheduling everything and making sure you prioritise the most important elements that are going to help you move toward your key goals.

Number 4.

Do weekly reviews.

Another element that’s very helpful when planning your calendar and priorities for the upcoming week is to use a process to help you stay focused, so you work on the key elements of yourself and your career during the week.

Each Friday afternoon review the past week and plan the next week.

Take a Google doc, Word doc, or a notepad ─ it doesn’t really matter. Name the document ‘Weekly Planner’ and ask yourself the following four questions:

1. Where would I like to be in seven days time? What will I have achieved? What is the main focus and priority?

Write a few sentences / paragraphs about the week as if it’s already happened, taking time to think deeply about your priorities, identifying the most important elements you want to have worked on during the week and achieved. For example:

I started the week super-organised and scheduled everything. The main focus for the week was spending 7 hours working on my annual business plan which helped me finally finish it – it feels good to have a structure for the coming year. I’m ready to rumble! I went to the gym twice and had two amazing sessions with my PT; he pushed me beyond my limits and although it was hard, it felt good. I made time to be present with my wife and boys each day at dinner. We talked, laughed and played each night before bed, etc.

2. Who did I need to ‘be’ in order to ‘do’ all the above?

In this section look at yourself and identify what kind of ‘being’ or what kind of ‘behaviours’ you need to focus on so you can achieve the results above. Being in the right place makes doing the right things much easier. ‘Being’ comes before ‘Doing’.

I remained calm and patient with everyone, going first with kindness and having fun. I followed through with my schedule, even if I didn’t feel like it. I wasn’t overly hard on myself; good enough is good enough. I led with love, not fear, embracing discomfort as part of my growth.

3. What actually happened?

In this part, bullet point out the key takeaways from the first section and then, the following week, review to see how you did. For example:

• Stayed organised and followed my schedule – yes!
• 7 hours on business plan to finish – Yes to 7 hours! Needs another 3 this week.
• Two hardcore gym sessions – Yes!
• Dinner with family each night, present and play – Yes!
• Remained calm and patient – Yes!
• Led with kindness and fun – Yes!
• Wasn’t hard on myself – Kind of … my inner critic is still pretty loud.
• Led with love not fear – 80% of the time.
• Embraced discomfort as part of growth – Yes!

4. How could I have made it better?

This is the piece where you reflect to see where maybe you could have shown up in a better way, with brutal honesty. This also helps you feel into what areas you need to work on the coming week. For example:

Overall the week went well. My energy lacked a little as I ate too many carbs and had too much coffee when working. This ended up with me being tired at night and not overly patient with my wife after 8:00 p.m. I was a little grumpy and need to take better care of myself to manage my energy this week.

This system takes around 15 minutes each week and will save you at least 10 times that. Simple and effective.

Here are a few of the key highlights for you to consider taking action on:
• Get clear on your priorities – having a ‘why’ will help you get organised.
• Managing email – allowing you to focus on being proactive vs. reactive.
• Use a calendar – schedule everything.
• Weekly planner system – 15 min per week to save you 150 minutes.

When you finally get your sh** together with self organisation and time management (practising, practising, practising), your life will change in more ways than you can imagine. Mastering your time equates to mastering your life and taking control, so you have the space and awareness to be able to do the things you love, be with people who nourish you, have more energy, and generally feel happier.

Give just one of these take-aways a go. It will help.

Wishing you health and happiness,

David.

Want to learn more about getting out of that overwhelm feeling?  I’m holding a live event in London on November 20, 2018, called “Get Clarity”.  This all-day workshop is designed for you to get more clarity about what you really want and to set yourself up for a fantastic 2019.  Be sure you’re on my newsletter list to get advance announcements about Get Clarity.

*A version of this blog post previously appeared in my ebook, Mastering Accountability: Getting Sh*t Done In A Busy World