As a professional you run your life towards a tough schedule with most of the day penciled in for urgent and important matters. Early in your career you tend to schedule you and your peers time in longer session. This development area is about how to time plan as an executive and getting more out of 32 quarters than 8 hours.
A clear measure on your seniority comes from how you schedule meetings for you and your peers and superiors. Early in our career you tend to think about a work day as being 8 hours long. You schedule meetings in one or two hour blocks. A busy day you can have 8 good hours for own work or for personal interactions. When the work load increases your day tend to stretch into more and longer hour days. 1 hour slots leave room for 50-55 minutes productive time.
One insight I would like to share is how you can accelerate your productivity during the day. By focusing on increasing the number of slots you can handle in day without increasing the total amount of time. The first challenge could be to start scheduling your day in half-hour slots, meaning you get 16 slots in a work day. Start by asking for shorter meeting than a full hour. Start scheduling own preparation time, it takes more to prepare a 30 minute meeting than an hour one. If you run your calendar in 16 slot days during your first 5 professional years you are doing a good job. 30 minute scheduled time leave room for 25 minute productive time.
Next step is to take the 30 minutes into 20 minute slots. This will increase your slots from 16 to 24. The main challenge being you might be off synch with customers and colleagues running their days in 60, 30 and 15 minutes slots. But the step from 30 down to 15 is large. You might need and interim step to not set a too high ambition. 20 minute slots are good for weekly progress updates.
When you reach executive positions you are most likely and expert in planning your agenda for 32 slots. 15 minutes each, with 12 minutes productive time and a bit of switching time. Your calendar gets sensitive for delays in meetings to start and end in time. The short time slots are vital to create flexibility to deal with late upcoming issues with shorter notice. And to do it without pushing out a half-day from your day schedules into your night shift.
As a master of your own schedule later in your career the following might be worth aiming for
- Running your calendar in 32 quarters rather than 8 hour blocks. your ability to switch context between meetings will grow over time to make this possible.
- A clear opinion if you support and open door policy for your own staff or not. It make it easy for people but can consume several time slots in a day without any preparations made.
- A communicated position to your own staff how to access you. Short questions you can answer with a txt/sms. Short 1-2 minute conversations. Urgent 1 slot meetings. Longer sessions requiring 2 or 3 slots.
- Pre-defined time slots for your most productive won work and for meetings you lead.
Good questions to work with in this area are:
- How many slots can I manage in a day right know, and what should be my goal in 12 months? – The limiting factor is how fast you can change between different work contexts
- How should I change the way I ask for my colleagues’ time when I call for meetings? – Early on in your career you start to affect how you use others time. Don’t make 1h your norm.
- When during the day should I plan the work that requires several uninterrupted slots after each other for personal work? – This is perhaps the valuable slots you will have during the day. Good additional reading on this subject is:
- How 15 minutes can fix your time management [VIDEO] – by Inc.
- Effective Scheduling: How to make the best use of your time [BLOG] – by Mindtools
- Multi-tasking: The cognitive costs of multi-tasking [BLOG] – by about.com Psychology
- Your life is slipping away in 15 minute increments [BLOG] – by The Habit Factor
With this idea I hope you are inspired to look at time with a nerw perspective. Don’t wait till you desperately need it, you will benefit from these skills as early as possible in your career.
The best result I have seen in this area is how DB,use the insights in his senior interactions.. By starting to ask for shorter meetings with peers and managers he get more proposals to decisions and execution with less effort.