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Design Your Ideal Calendar: A Practical Guide to Working Smarter

Updated: Apr 5


Are you tired of feeling like your calendar controls you rather than the other way around?

I certainly was. Constantly juggling meetings and tasks left me feeling overwhelmed and unproductive. But what if I told you there's a way to regain control and work smarter, not harder?

In this blog, I'll share some strategies that revolutionized my calendar and, in turn, my productivity and well-being. By carving out dedicated focus time and reassessing the necessity of every meeting, I took back control of my schedule. Strategically scheduling breaks and optimizing my working hours allowed me to maintain peak performance throughout the day. Now, my calendar reflects my goals and priorities, empowering me to work smarter and achieve better results.


Your Ideal Calendar Makeover

If your calendar is bursting at the seams with meetings, leaving no room for focused work or creative thinking, it's time for a remodel. And I mean a complete overhaul. This isn't just about cancelling a few appointments here and there; it's about tearing down your current structure and rebuilding it to fit your needs and priorities.

But where do you start? Begin by imagining your ideal calendar. If you had the power to design it from scratch, how would you want it to look?

Consider these questions:

- How much uninterrupted "focus time" do you need each week?

- What working hours suit you best? When are you most productive?

- How many breaks do you need throughout the day, and where would you place them?

- Do you prefer batching 1:1 meetings together or spreading them out?

- How can you take advantage of your peak energy hours?


It's crucial to carve out dedicated blocks of focus time on your calendar. Treat this time as sacred; no other meetings should intrude. And if you find it challenging to prioritize focus time over a packed meeting schedule, consider seeking support from a coach or accountability partner.


Assess and Adapt with Neuroscience Insights

Before you start tearing down walls, take a close look at your current calendar. Evaluate each meeting critically:


- Is it truly a valuable use of your time?

- Can it be shortened or replaced with a more efficient form of communication?

- Should you delegate attendance to someone else?

- Are there too many participants, signalling a culture of FOMO (Fear of losing out)?


Let’s delve deeper into neuroscience insights to enhance your evaluation:


Cognitive Load: Consider the cognitive load each meeting imposes. High cognitive load meetings, especially back-to-back, can drain your mental resources, impairing decision-making and creativity. Aim to intersperse these with breaks to recharge.

Brain Priming: Your brain thrives on routine. Establishing consistent working hours and scheduling similar tasks together can optimize brain priming, enhancing productivity and focus.

Rest and Recovery: Neuroscience emphasizes the importance of rest and recovery for optimal brain function. Incorporating regular breaks into your schedule allows your brain to recharge, improving attention and problem-solving abilities.

Be ruthless in your evaluation. You'll likely uncover numerous opportunities for improvement, especially when it comes to streamlining 1:1 meetings and reducing unnecessary participants.


 Remodelling Your Calendar

With your ideal calendar in mind and a thorough analysis of your current schedule, it's time to negotiate changes. Think of it as bulldozing through your calendar, clearing space for what truly matters:


- Move meetings to more suitable slots.

- Eliminate unnecessary meetings altogether.

- Advocate for shorter or less frequent meetings e.g. bi-weekly meetings or instead of 30 minutes shorten meeting to 25 or 20 minutes.

Don't be afraid to assert your needs as a leader or professional. You'll be surprised how accommodating others can be when you explain your desire for a more effective schedule.


Putting It All Together

To implement these changes effectively, follow these steps:


- Design your optimal calendar, prioritizing focus time.

- Evaluate and trim down your existing meetings.

- Restructure your calendar to align with your ideal vision.

- Incorporate short breaks between meetings to stay focused and present.

- If immediate changes aren't possible, start implementing them in the coming weeks.


Remember, you have more control over your calendar than you realize. It takes courage to make changes, but the impact on your productivity and well-being will be well worth it. So roll up your sleeves and start building the calendar that works for you.

For further insights on time management and productivity, explore resources like "Deep Work" by Cal Newport and "Atomic Habits" by James Clear or stay tuned here for more tips and guidance. As always, if you find implementing these changes challenging, please don't hesitate to reach out.

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