Anyone who hangs out here for a minute knows I’m a huge proponent of putting everything in your calendar. Tasks, time you want to protect for yourself to read that book, everything. “What?!,” you may think, “That’ll clutter up my schedule, not give me more white space in my calendar!”
Yes and no. Hear me out:
You want to be able to trust the white space in your calendar. Whether that stuff is in your calendar or not, you’re already spending your time doing it. In other words, if you currently don’t put everything in your calendar, you can’t trust the white space in it. Instead, the white space means, “go look at your 3 to-do lists and 12 post-it notes to find out what to do during this window.”
Putting tasks in your calendar and planning out when to do them means that where there’s white space, there’s actually free time! What a novel concept.
And when you know when your free time is (and sometimes can move things around to move that free time to when you want it), you can plan to use it doing something you love.
Get Real. Putting everything you spend your time doing in your calendar means you have to get real about how much you can do in a day.
And that’s great news! It forces you to prioritize and helps you feel accomplished at the end of the day (instead of disappointed that you didn’t get everything done even though it was impossible for you to do it all in the first place!).
Just say no. Saying “yes” to a new invite/project from your boss/etc. means saying “no” to something else. Always. Even if the “no” is to a quiet night in by yourself with a glass of wine and your favorite show/book.
Once you start calendaring everything (tasks, internal deadlines for work, time protected for yourself), you see in black and white (or fun Google Calendar colors) what exactly you’d be saying “no” to if you took on another project, went out for that acquaintance’s birthday, etc. I’m not saying you have to say “no” to everything or can’t adjust your calendar to make a new opportunity work. I adjust my calendar all the time! I’m just saying you’d be able to make more informed decisions about how you spend your time, and that gives you confidence and ownership (which feels a lot better than uncertainty/feeling lost).
When you can trust the white space in your calendar, set more realistic expectations for yourself about what you can accomplish in a day, and say “no” to protect time for yourself, you’ll see your free time better and can plan to use it in ways that make you happy (instead of stumbling upon it when you don’t expect it and frittering it away on Instagram because that sounds way more fun than checking those 12 post-it notes for something you “should” do).
Give it a try. If you want helping setting up this new time management approach, check out my time management program for professional working women.