When you have an exceptionally busy schedule, the only constant is change. Your calendar is always being modified and updated. It’s never something you can set and forget.
The best way to approach this flux is by evolving with it and iterating as you go. Examine what you’re doing now, and if something isn’t effective, change it.
Always ask yourself, “Am I running both my work and personal lives well?”
There are no perfect cure-alls for managing a busy schedule. But as someone who’s always on the go, I want to share a few tips that can help you get the most out of your day.
1. Plan your day according to your natural cadence.
I’m definitely a morning person. If I get my eight hours of sleep, I wake up ready to get things done. There are days when I’ve worked out, eaten breakfast, and answered emails before anyone else in my house is awake.
The funny thing is, my husband and co-founder, Dave, is the complete opposite. He gets more energy after 9 p.m., so he’s working on strategy and firing off emails until after midnight.
Knowing your own circadian rhythm is such an important part of being your most productive, efficient self.
Because part of managing a busy schedule is feeling your best and being healthy. Getting enough sleep, exercising, eating well, meditating—whatever helps you be your best self.
2. Don’t attend a meeting unless it’s absolutely essential.
Certain companies are very reliant on meetings, and often, everyone is invited. People show up, then realize their presence isn’t necessary five minutes into the presentation. But by then, it’s too late.
There are two major problems with being in unnecessary meetings:
- You’re not doing your work.
- You don’t have time to execute.
We have a new rule at ThirdLove designed to combat the proliferation of meetings in everyone’s schedules. Whoever sends out the invite for the meeting has to include the agenda, the topical points, and what decisions need to be made during the meeting.
That allows the person receiving an invite to look at the meeting and decide whether it makes sense for them to attend.
You shouldn’t feel guilty about telling someone you won’t be at a meeting if you feel it isn’t necessary.
If the organizer comes back and explains why they want you in the room, then you may need to go–but at least you’ll know exactly why you’re needed.
3. Keep your team informed about your schedule.
Staying on top of your schedule isn’t just about you. It’s also about making sure the people around you know what you’re doing and when you’re out of the office.
There are very basic ways you can do this, the easiest of which is putting events on your calendar. If you’re traveling or out of the office, block that time on your calendar so everyone can see it and adjust appropriately.
The last thing you want is to slow your team down because they’re not sure of your status. Make sure that people not only know you’re gone but that they’re also empowered to make decisions in your absence. Or that they know to call or text you with urgent items that need your input.
4. Block out time on your calendar for doing work.
Recently, I started blocking out little half-hour time periods on my calendar.
It looks like I’m busy with something specific, but in reality, these are times when I can catch up or get a breather throughout the day. Maybe I really need to do some email triage, make a phone call, or grab a snack. Whatever the case, I make time for it every day.
This flex time is also nice because when something urgent does come up, I can look at my calendar and see when I have one of those windows of time blocked off.
If we’re making a senior hire, and I need to interview them, I can fit it in during my blocked time.
5. Surround yourself with the right people.
I travel pretty regularly these days. And even though I’m working while I’m gone, it feels like I’ve missed so much when I come back.
In reality, my team has it covered. We’ve hired in a way that ensures people can handle their own business without having to look over their shoulder.
I know it can be tough to feel like you’re out of the loop, even for a short period of time.
If you’ve surrounded yourself with the right people, you can spend your time where it’s really necessary.
And when you have a relentlessly busy schedule, there’s nothing more important than being able to focus on the essentials.