The one where we start breaking up our day
Meeting after meeting after meeting after meeting leaves no time to do other work
We all have so much to do in a day, and never have enough time to do it. I spend a lot of my time thinking about my workday and the type of work I have to do each week. For every meeting and task that’s on my calendar, I ask myself three things:
What is the mental load for this work? How much mental energy does this require? Do I need time to mentally prepare for a conversation, and do I need time to wind down from it?
What is the physical load for this work? Giving a talk or recording a podcast is heavier physical work for me (despite sitting in a chair) because I have to be “on” and generally more animated.
Am I the best person to be doing this? Sometimes I end up with a meeting scheduled on my calendar that I really don’t need to be doing; perhaps our lead engineer or director of partnerships can take the call, or perhaps it’s a meeting that can definitely just be an email.
There’s more to work than just meetings too, of course. I need to make sure I leave myself enough time in the day to get the rest of my work done, which means I can’t be in meetings all day, which is why I intentionally block time on my calendar every single week. Here’s how I handle my time blocking:
Time block where it makes sense for you. You know what type of work you do and what the mental load is for each task you must complete. Your mental load may differ from someone else’s mental load.
Try to dedicate certain days for similar types of meetings. I find it helpful to do my 1:1s on the same day whenever possible so I’m not splitting my focus in so many different directions. Just make sure if meetings are heavier on mental load that you’re leaving time in between meetings to debrief, take notes, and prepare for the next meeting.
If you’re the type of person who forgets to eat lunch (you know who you are), block it off on your calendar every day right now. Whether you use a full hour for lunch or just 30 minutes, give yourself that time to take a breather away from your computer and away from the noise to relax.
Don’t schedule meetings on at least one day a week. By giving yourself a day to fully focus on your work, you know you can use those days to get things done. I find Wednesdays or Fridays to be the best. Just make sure you’re holding yourself to this day away from meetings.
Just because you have an evening without plans doesn’t mean you should spend it working. I know you have things to catch up on, but you truly need to give yourself your evenings and weekends to take a break. There are of course always exceptions when there’s a fire or upcoming launch, but let these be the exception and not the rule.
Cancel meetings you don’t need to have or reschedule them for another time if it’s not urgent and something takes priority! It’s okay to have to reschedule. Your time is limited and you need to be spending it in a way that is efficient for your time and mental capacity.
Don’t expect to implement all of these things in one go; it will take some time to figure out what works best for you. I go in and out of having a meetings-free day just based on whatever I’m working on. In some situations like right now, while I’m fundraising, I don’t have the luxury of blocking off an entire day. But as fundraising winds down and business travel picks back up, it’ll be time to adjust my calendar and time-blocking expectations again. It’s forever a work in progress.
Until next week (or perhaps the following week? Do you prefer to receive these emails weekly or bi-weekly? Please tell me!)
Love this, Kelly! (Keep the posts coming as often as they flow, whether weekly or otherwise).
My favourite principle/concept on time management is the idea of a "Zombie Mode" playbook. I've started creating various different Aaron Zombie lists for various circumstances. Let me know your thoughts - it's really cool stuff!