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27 Feb

Play sliding-tile puzzle with your time

Datum: 2017-02-27 10:46

If you have plen­ty of meet­ings but not plen­ty of time between the meet­ings to do all those things you promised you would do before next meet­ing, you are not alone. Many of my clients fill their days with meet­ings, but have dif­fi­cul­ty find­ing the time for work­ing alone and undis­turbed with the tasks they need to complete.

Meet­ings have a ten­den­cy to be pri­or­i­tized — per­haps because sev­er­al oth­er peo­ple are depend­ing on that we can meet them dur­ing this or that par­tic­u­lar time, while the time we spend work­ing alone only requires one per­son to be present; yourself.

When every week is dif­fer­ent from the next
In spite of this, most of us need a cer­tain num­ber of hours every week when we are not attend­ing meet­ings in order to do all the tasks we have to do on our own.

But, how do we find those hours in a sched­ule filled with engage­ments? Sure, I have pre­vi­ous­ly writ­ten about how we can sched­ule a set num­ber of hours every week which are reserved for work­ing alone on tasks so that we ensure that we have enough space” in our cal­en­dar to actu­al­ly have time for every­thing. But what if some meet­ings tend to be unpre­dict­ed and you hence have dif­fi­cul­ties pre­dict­ing when to sched­ule those hours you need on your own? This would make it hard to real­ly reserve that recur­ring time alone, wouldn’t it?

Well, no. You could always play slid­ing-tile puz­zle with your time.

Do this

  1. Take a moment to think about how many hours you need every week which are free from meet­ings. Hard to esti­mate? Then make an edu­cat­ed guess of eight hours per week.

  2. Sched­ule eight sep­a­rate hours of alone time some­time dur­ing this week in your cal­en­dar dur­ing the times you would pre­fer to be free from meet­ings if you were to sched­ule your ide­al week. If you already have oth­er things sched­uled dur­ing the time you would most pre­fer to work alone, don’t wor­ry. We’ll get there.

  3. Sched­ule the hours as indi­vid­ual hours, even if they are sched­uled con­sec­u­tive­ly. So, do not cre­ate blocks of time. Instead of sched­ul­ing a block of three hours, cre­ate three sep­a­rate book­ings. This way it becomes much eas­i­er to shift and move them around lat­er on.

  4. If you are not using one already, cre­ate a cat­e­go­ry or assign a col­or to this time spent work­ing alone so that you can dis­tin­guish it clear­ly when view­ing your upcom­ing week in the calendar.

  5. Set all the hours (all eight, for instance) as recur­ring so that they reap­pear in your cal­en­dar every week.

  6. Alright, let the game begin. The rules are:
    • One hour of alone-time has to be spent doing things you need your alone-time for. You are not allowed to be dou­ble-booked (so if any alone-time hours” are placed where you actu­al­ly have a meet­ing, they need to be moved now).
    • You can move an hour of alone-time to any free space in the cal­en­dar dur­ing this week, but you can­not trans­fer hours this week onto next week. Mean­ing, you can­not save” an hour for next week.
    • You are not allowed to remove an hour you actu­al­ly need for work­ing alone.

  7. Now, open up next week in your cal­en­dar. Rearrange the alone-time hours so that they all fit your sched­ule. If the cal­en­dar-soft­ware asks if you only want to move this par­tic­u­lar unit of time or the whole series, select only this one” or the equiv­a­lent option.

  8. Once a week, per­haps as a part of your week­ly run-through, play this slid­ing-tile puz­zle with your alone-time for the next few weeks to come.

  9. If you are asked to attend a meet­ing dur­ing a time when you have sched­uled alone-time, the same rules apply. But, you are not allowed to remove the hour, so if there are no oth­er free slots dur­ing the week, you will have to resched­ule the meet­ing for anoth­er week. (There are of course unusu­al, urgent excep­tions when these rules no longer apply, but you will know when these occur.)

Done on time before next meeting
If you play slid­ing-tile puz­zle with the hours you need to spend work­ing alone, you will auto­mat­i­cal­ly get the time you need free from meet­ings every week. You will man­age to do more of the things you promised oth­ers you would do, and will not have to excuse your­self dur­ing the next meet­ing with that you did not have time” to do what you said you would. And, if you are amused by the same things as I, you will enjoy this lit­tle game of time-management.

What is your method?
Do you have a way of ensur­ing that you have all the time you need to com­plete your tasks and assign­ments every week? Per­haps you have your very own method of doing this. Leave a com­ment to share your thoughts.