Productive and Accessible: Be a Student of Your Calendar

Dave Meltzer talks about how to use a calendar in business to be efficient as possible.
Dare to Use Your Calendar

It’s there for a reason, but people often think of using it as a chore. A calendar is a tool that can change your life.

An essential lesson that I’ve learned in my career is to be a student of my calendar.  That means don’t rely on your calendar to tell you your schedule, but prepare every day—multiple times—to know your calendar.

It also means that I need a system to properly utilize the calendar and understand more than just the meetings I set. One of the ways I accomplish this is to have different principles and philosophies around the calendar and my use of time.

Time to “Do It Now”

One of my rules is that all of my phone calls have the objective of lasting five minutes, with exceptions, and all of my meetings 20 minutes. This helps me to fit in even more meetings per hour, while also freeing me up to make changes to my daily schedule as needed. I also utilize my calendar to see if I can do something now, because I know if I can do something now, then I’ll save time. If I don’t do something now, it may take me twice as long.

Concrete Goals Provide Concrete Accomplishments

People who construct their goals in concrete terms are 50% more likely to feel confident that they’ll obtain their goals and 32% more likely to feel in control of their lives, according to the book 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People. Being a student of your calendar brings clarity, balance, and focus (which also brings confidence). These principles allow you to attract even more of the things you want into your life.

A study that I read about setting goals discussed an experiment with drug addicts in withdrawal. You can’t find a more stressed-out, unfocused population than that! All of these drug addicts in withdrawal agreed to write an essay before 5:00 p.m. on a certain day. 80% of those who said when and where they would write the essay completed it. None of the others did.

The group who set aside a specific time to accomplish the task were infinitely more successful than those who chose not to schedule a time for action. This research shows that calendaring creates confidence and allows you to accomplish your goals in a timely fashion. Simple.

Plan to Plan, Man

According to one of the best-selling time management authors in history, Brian Tracy (who is also one of my friends), one minute of planning at the start of every day saves a minimum of 10 minutes of work later. This supports the argument we’ve heard all of our lives that proper preparation prevents poor performance. The proper use of planning can save you exponentially more time (and cause less stress) than if you fail to plan.

If you’re unsure whether planning is an efficient use of your time, the answer is pretty clear. Just think about the consequences and inefficiencies that are caused by showing up to meetings late.  Being only five minutes late for an hour-long company meeting will cost the company more than 8% of its meeting time. Think about the inefficiency caused for an entire team of people when their leader is unable to do things in a timely fashion.  A leader who is not a student of their calendar wastes his employees’ time and his own money.

Dead On Deadlines

A common critical business issue is how widespread this inefficiency seems to be. According to one survey given to business people, 43% of Americans surveyed describe themselves as disorganized and 21% have missed crucial work deadlines. That’s more than one-fifth of the people surveyed who cannot hit their deadlines, do what they’ve promised, or meet expectations. Nearly half of people in the survey also said that disorganization causes them to work late at least two to three times a week. People cannot find the right balance between work and play, which affects their ability to be successful and also reduces the amount of free time they have. It all comes back to the fact that they are disorganized and not being a student of the calendar.

Everyone is Busy

One of the most compelling reasons to be a student of your calendar is that while the amount of time spent on scheduling grows with the amount of appointments that people have, the time needed to actually schedule meetings decreases. This means that the more meetings you schedule, the better you get at scheduling them. Contrary to popular belief, people that schedule or have many meetings during the day are not busier than other people. There’s only two determining factors whether you’re busy; whether you’re accessible and how productive you are. You want to focus in on your accessibility and productivity when you look at your calendars. Create your own rules and your own philosophies and you will be, not only a student of your calendar, but you’ll be able to manifest accurately and rapidly whatever it is that you want to accomplish.

By: Dave Meltzer

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