10 Jan Calendaring: Mapping Out Success for the Next 12 Months
“You got to be careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there.” Yogi Berra
One of the ongoing issues with Team Leaders continually complain about it is they never have enough time to achieve their goals and yet they fail to take the action necessary to address this issue. While the daily chaos of business doesn’t allow Team Leaders, at any level, to completely control their time, that doesn’t mean there aren’t effective and simple methods that will increase control and, correspondingly, increase a Team Leader’s effectiveness (achieving the desired outcomes) and efficiency (with as little time, energy and resources as possible). As a Performance Coach I assist Team Leaders to become more effective and efficient by taking more control of their time and energy through a simple process: Calendaring the entire year in January.
When I first discuss this concept with a Team Leader, their immediate push back is their work life is so unpredictable it would be a waste of time to try and plan for the entire year. My immediate response is if they don’t assert control over as much of their work life as they can someone else will control that time – and the more control someone else has over their time the less likely they are to achieving their goals.
Their second push back is the concept of planning their entire year is to overwhelming. My second response is there is a simple process that works and this is it:
The Annual Time Control Planning Process
Step #1: In January schedule 2 hours to plan the next 12 months.
Step #2: Buy a 12 month “at a glance” calendar. If you get the dry erase calendar, pick up 2 colors of dry erase markers. If you get a paper calendar, pick up 2 colors of sticky circles. Decide which color indicates “Free Days” and which indicates “Work Event.”
Step #3: Sit down with your significant other and decide on the “Free Days” (i.e. vacation days; weekends; family event days; mental health days). By involving your significant other in planning your year you reduce the odds you will miss an important personal event which will significantly reduce family stress. Mark those days on the calendar with the “Free Day” color. BTW: bad handwriting is better than good memory.
Step #4: Determine the “Work Events” – days committed for planned work events (i.e. weekly, monthly, quarterly meetings and conference calls; client/customer meetings) that will occur throughout the year. BTW: Regardless of how chaotic and unexpected we believe our work life is, a surprising amount of work periodically reoccurs throughout the year. By becoming aware of this reoccurrence of work – seeing its pattern on the annual calendar – allows more planning to occur at the beginning of the year achieve more effectiveness and efficiency throughout the year.
Step #5: Say “no” to any request that interferes with either a Free Day or a Work Event. Yes, saying NO is one of the hardest things to do, but with the annual calendar in front of you, it is much easier to do. And you can immediately tell the requester when you are available.
The Coach’s Corner: Yes, I know this system sounds too simplistic to make a difference because most people are looking for the “silver bullet” to cure all of their time issues. But that “silver bullet” doesn’t exist. However, my experience (I use this system), and the experience of those I coach, substantiates this Annual Planning Process will make a significant difference in your time management issues because it will immediately give you more control over your time and, thereby, increase your productivity and satisfaction and create more work/life balance. So, try it.
I could be wrong…but I’m not.