Calendar as Servant, Not Master

Dr. John Townsend

August 9, 2017

Most of us wake up in the morning, the first thing we look at is today’s calendar, either on our phone, or monitor, or the one hanging on the refrigerator door. The calendar orients us and gives us an idea of what time we are going to do whatever. It is a structure to make the day make sense.

Calendars exist to serve us. They are intended to help us get life done in a meaningful and orderly way. But too often, the calendar becomes the master and not the servant. I have too often looked at my week’s calendar and thought, “Why in the world did I agree to that meeting? What was I thinking?” Well, what I was thinking at the time was, “Sure, that sounds fine, I’ve got some space there”, forgetting this principle: space doesn’t mean free space. Just because there is some time on a calendar doesn’t mean a low-priority meeting must go there. Nature abhors a vacuum, however, and we fill that space up with nonessentials.

Here is a tip to help this, which has helped me and lots of people I work with. It’s actually pretty simple: Create dedicated “Energy” times in every day of your work calendar. Energy times are those spaces in the day in which you need to have some wiggle room between meetings and phone calls, to do the things we never schedule but can make a huge difference in your attitude and productivity: catch up on a few (not all) emails, take a walk, grab power nap, talk to a friend about the weekend, reflect on how your day is going. It may be 15 minutes and it may be 60, depending. But our minds need a bit of “me” time that is dedicated to recharging. You will find yourself renewed and ready to tackle the next challenge.

Don’t get caught in the thinking of “I’ll power through all day, except lunch, and then kick back tonight.” It doesn’t work that way. We tend to be way too exhausted with this approach, and the kick back ends up being sitting passively on our butts watching TV or playing video games or doing Facebook, basically in recovery mode. Instead, put the Energy times directly into your calendar so that nothing but a true emergency can break into it, and your evening will be more fun and active when you get home.

Keep your calendar your servant. Protect yourself and your energy by scheduling the time that recharges you.

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