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06 Mar

What to call the alone time to make you (and others) respect it

Datum: 2017-03-06 08:52

Some of us have quite a few meet­ings to attend every week — so many in fact that we have dif­fi­cul­ties find­ing time to do all the oth­er tasks we have to do in addi­tion to attend­ing all these meet­ings. An old trick for mak­ing sure you have time for oth­er things than meet­ings, is to sched­ule time in the cal­en­dar that can­not be used for any con­gre­gat­ing, so that we make our­selves dis­tinct­ly unavail­able for addi­tion­al meet­ings in the hours between the one already sched­uled. Then we will have the time we need to do oth­er things — in the­o­ry, at least.

Easy to sched­ule — easy to reschedule
But just as eas­i­ly as we sched­ule the time for doing oth­er things, we can resched­ule too, and I meet a lot of peo­ple who def­i­nite­ly need to start respect­ing the time they them­selves have set aside for doing things oth­er than run­ning between meet­ings. It is so easy to throw that valu­able hour away with a Sure, we could meet then. I had just sched­uled some alone time any­way”, and before you know it that impor­tant time is gone as you made room for yet anoth­er meeting.

Make it just as important
Late­ly I have got­ten the same tip from a num­ber of peo­ple regard­ing what we can do to make it eas­i­er to respect and keep the sched­uled free time in spite of all the meet­ings com­pet­ing for a slot in our cal­en­dar. I have not found any sci­en­tif­ic evi­dence for why this method works, but since sev­er­al peo­ple have told me it does the trick for them, I will share it with you here as well. You’ll have to take it for what it is.

It seems to mat­ter what we write as we sched­ule time in our cal­en­dar we wish to keep free from meet­ings. A par­tic­i­pant from one of my cours­es recent­ly said: I used to write alone time’ in the cal­en­dar, but those hours were gone as soon as some­one asked me for a meet­ing. But after I start­ed writ­ing busi­ness plan­ning’ instead, I respect the hours I have set aside to a much greater extent.”

I can imag­ine. As long as we have cal­en­dars that col­leagues can see as well, we have to stand up for” and defend the hours we have sched­uled both to our­selves and to our col­leagues. And if we actu­al­ly per­ceive alone time” as a con­cept too asso­ci­at­ed with scent­ed can­dles and lifestyle mag­a­zines, the term busi­ness plan­ning” has a whole dif­fer­ent ring to it. It is hence sig­nif­i­cant how we name the book­ings in our calendar.

Do this
If this sounds famil­iar and you also tend to resched­ule the sched­uled alone time, then do this:

  1. Think of anoth­er way of nam­ing your cal­en­dar book­ings than the one you have pre­vi­ous­ly used. As men­tioned, some use busi­ness plan­ning”, oth­ers write WPR” (abbre­vi­a­tion for With­out Par­tic­u­lar Rea­son), some make sure to include expres­sions such as exec­u­tive” and cor­po­rate”, some might sim­ply write Help­ing Joan” (even though they don’t know a Joan), and some might even write Undis­turbed time”, and by doing so inspire their col­leagues to also sched­ule time when they def­i­nite­ly will not attend meet­ings but instead get all those oth­er impor­tant tasks done.

  2. Now sched­ule a few hours through­out the next few weeks and name the cal­en­dar book­ings what­ev­er you just thought of.

  3. Cre­ate a to-do-task with a due-date in a cou­ple weeks which asks you to look back at the weeks that have passed and take a minute to reflect on how well this lit­tle tip of nam­ing your cal­en­dar book­ings dif­fer­ent­ly has worked for you. Adjust the name if you should need to.

More time for neglect­ed tasks
If chang­ing the way you refer to the time you set aside for oth­er things than meet­ings makes a dif­fer­ence to you in terms of respect­ing your own pre­vi­ous wish­es, then you have ensured that you have the time you need to do tasks that are not con­cerned with meet­ing oth­ers in a tremen­dous­ly sim­ple way. You will now get these prob­a­bly impor­tant things done well before they are due, which gives you the oppor­tu­ni­ty to deliv­er high­er qual­i­ty and will make your work days more pleas­ant too.

What do you write?
What do you call these time-alone-book­ings in the cal­en­dar so both you and oth­ers respect them? If you have a good name, please share it in a com­ment and inspire oth­ers as well.