Tim Stevens, author (Fairness is Overrated, Thomas Nelson) and director of executive search consultants at Vanderbloemen Search Group, blogs at LeadingSmart.com. He believes leaders who don’t have control of their calendars will constantly be spinning out in the dirt without making much progress.
Here, he shares six principles to help manage your 2017 calendar:
1. Put priority items on your calendar first.
This includes time with your spouse and kids, vacation, strategic planning and vision time. Otherwise you’ll never find time for those priorities.
2. Stack your meetings.
If it’s within your control, try to schedule all your meetings on the same day or two each week. You may not get much productive work done on those days, but you’ll have some great conversations, help move the ball down the field on some projects and keep your staff moving forward because of your connections.
3. Schedule your rest.
If you don’t plan for rest and renewal, it won’t happen. You can’t wait for the right time to unwind or take a vacation with your family. It will never happen. Get the dates on the calendar months in advance. Always be looking at your schedule for busy seasons ahead. Make sure you plan some time in the middle of those seasons to unwind and get centered.
4. Manage your travel schedule.
If you don’t travel, skip over this one. But many leaders have to be on the road. With your family and boss, figure out the number of nights away that’s reasonable for you during that season. Any more than that, and your priorities will start to get out of whack.
5. Go home before the work is done.
This is difficult whether you are in business or the church world. (In ministry, we convince ourselves someone might go to hell if we go home too soon!) When you go home before the work is done, it means you are leaving something really good behind. But you can’t wait until your to-do list is complete or until the phone stops ringing before you head home to your family. The work is never finished. Just go home! (Note: If you are a slacker, then please ignore this point. You actually shouldn’t leave until your to-do list is done.)
6. Leave room for people and leave room for God.
It is easy to fill up your calendar and not leave room for what God might bring along your path. If your calendar is booked solid, you won’t have the flexibility when someone drops by your office or a crisis comes up that needs attention. Block more time than is needed for appointments, leaving a buffer between appointments and keeping your door open as often as possible.