Time: our most precious resource (3 of 3)

The concept of being deliberate and intentional with how we spend our time is equally as important within the framework of our professional lives. To work on something meaningful requires big chunks of uninterrupted time. It’s nearly impossible to create something that is high quality when you’re only able to dedicate brief periods of time to work on it.

This concept isn’t particularly surprising or novel… and yet, many people allow their work calendars to feel out of control / overly dictated by external forces, such as client, vendor, investor, board member, advisor, or team member requests. Being intentional and deliberate with how your work week is scheduled and owning your calendar can have a huge impact on your ability to work effectively, without changing the number of hours you work.

Let’s say you have an eight-hour working day and you have three, one-hour meetings you must attend. You will be significantly more productive if you can schedule those three meetings in close succession, leaving a meaningful chunk of time free either afterward or beforehand to focus on important work. In contrast, if you schedule at will or based on what’s convenient and end up with a schedule where you have your first meeting in the morning, the second mid-day, and the third in the middle of the afternoon, with ~60-90 minute chunks of time between each, it’s going to be extremely difficult to make headway on anything important you might have planned to work on.

Sixty-minute chunks of time between meetings can easily be absorbed by catching up on Teams/Slack or email. Even if you’re good at chunking your time for these activities, there is a very real mental cost and burden to knowing you only have a limited time before your next meeting, which makes it difficult to fully engross yourself in the work at hand.

From what I’ve observed, it’s much more common for people to schedule based on when they have availability as opposed to crafting a schedule that allows for productive blocks of working time. It’s also very difficult to be disciplined when you have competing forces for your time. And to be clear, even if you’re a master of time management, you will inevitably have certain unexpected and out of your control requests that must be accommodated; however, the goal is not time management perfection. Rather, it’s about taking a proactive and assertive approach to how your time at work is spent.