In a previous post, I described how to check that your overall time allocation is aligned with your strategic goals, and offered a few tips to make that time more effective. As a follow up, here is another quick, practical suggestion on how to apply those concepts I have uninspiringly named Calendar Partitioning. Fans of The One Minute Manager will jump on this concept. If you try this, please let me know your feedback on how well it worked (or didn’t). If you are reluctant to take the risk, please let me know what stands in the way!
What is Calendar Partitioning?
- Divide your work week into blocks of time to address one topic of strategic importance during each and make larger steps of progress overall
How do I do this?
- Make a list of five categories of your work with strategic importance to your goals
- Map each category to a 3 hour block of time
- Group your current (or upcoming) projects or recurring tasks into these categories, including a list of deliverables for each
- Prioritize within the groups as needed, and then work on only one category per block on time.
Example of the idea at work: in words and image
This morning I am going to finish my revisions to the capability definitions for service managers, and get some input from our current managers before sending them to HR. When my IT guru came in to show me a mock up of our new checkout page for the website, I told him to leave a copy and showed him my schedule, asking him to come back tomorrow afternoon.
- Close your email program, or at least disable email notifications, while you work
- Use your phones ring profile settings so that your phone will only disturb you with urgent messages from “VIPs” (e.g., family, your partners or boss)
- As new and unexpected items arise, let the person know when you will address them (i.e., during the next appropriate block of time)
- Each week (Friday afternoons work well to clear your mind for the weekend), review how much progress you have made on each project and pick your projects for the following week. When you get to work on Monday, pick up your plan and get started without giving in to the temptations of urgency.
Why will this help me?
- You will focus on important work with fewer interruptions from urgent concerns
- You will spend longer working on one topic, reaching a deeper level of thought and a more thorough level of completion
- By making decisions on urgent matters under less pressure or deferring the decision, you will act with a longer-term perspective. Smaller matters will take care of themselves without your input and you will be able to build accountability and effective decision making skills in your direct reports.
- You will become more aware of the connections between projects before you start working
- You will work on the same topics at different times of the day/week, and notice which topics fit better with changes in your energy level